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Aaron Falk, Tony Jones and Steve Luhm cover the Utah Jazz and the NBA for The Salt Lake Tribune. The Tribune on Twitter - Aaron Falk: @tribjazz, Steve Luhm: @sluhm, Tony Jones: @Tjonessltrib

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Longtime NBA referee Dick Bavetta retires

After 39 years of calling games NBA, Dick Bavetta is calling it quits.

One of the NBA's most recognizable referees has retired from the game, the league announced Tuesday.

The Brooklyn native's career saw him referee in the CBA, the Rucker League, FIBA, and New York City's public and Catholic High School leagues.

His first NBA game was Dec. 2, 1975, at Madison Square Garden. He went on to referee in 2,635 consecutive regular season games.

"I am most proud of never having missed an assigned game, be it exhibition, regular season or playoffs, throughout my entire career," Bavetta said in a news release. "It really has been a great run."

Among Bavetta's career achievements:

• A league record for consecutive games officiated.

• Refereeing 270 playoff games.

• And officiating in 27 Finals games.

It's the last one for which he'll likely be remembered around Utah.

Bavetta was one of the officials for Game 6 of the 1998 Finals. And his call— later shown in replays to be incorrect — disallowing a Howard Eisley 3-pointer in the second quarter cost the Jazz a crucial bucket in what ended as a 87-86 win for the Chicago Bulls.

Here's the only clip of the shot I could find on YouTube:

It's not something Jazz fans are likely to forget any time soon.

In 2008, Sen. Orrin Hatch told the Tribune's Kurt Kragthorpe: "I've always been kind of bitter about the officials in that game, because we had that game won."

— Aaron Falk

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