Ex-Sixer rises to become a prototype for NBA referees – The Philadelphia Tribune

When he was a player, no one had to tell Leon Wood if he was going to be involved with a big game.

He knew it by the way his body reacted. His hands would suddenly become sweaty and his adrenaline level would rise.

The former gold-medal-winning Olympian and a first-round NBA Draft pick of the Philadelphia 76ers, both occurring in 1984, still gets that feeling, but the difference is that he’s wearing an NBA referee uniform.

“Not much has changed,” said Wood, who is officiating in the 2017 NBA playoffs. On Sunday, he was an alternate for the Portland Trail Blazers- Golden State Warriors game. “I still get that feeling and that lets me know it’s a big game.”

Wood, who played point guard and shooting guard, was a good player. He spun a California State University at Fullerton and hall of fame career into five seasons in the NBA, ending in 1991 with the Sacramento Kings, and then several seasons playing overseas.

He has been an NBA referee for the past 21 seasons — with more than 1,169 regular season games and 20 playoff games under his belt — and hasn’t set a timetable on when he’ll stop blowing his whistle.

“As long as I’m healthy, I’ll continue on,” said Wood, whose birth name is Osie Leon Wood III.

“Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t plan on being 74 and refereeing like Dick Bavetta did. I don’t think I’ll be doing that. But you never know. As long as I’m healthy, I want to be out there,” he added.

Wood, who officiated high school and college games before making the step to the Continental Basketball Association and the NBA, is making history at age 55. He, and fellow former NBA journeyman Haywood Workman, and the retired Bernie

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