Norm Drucker (born July 4, 1920 in New York City) was a major influence in professional basketball officiating for over thirty-five years.
He refereed in the National Basketball Association from 1953 to 1969. In 1969, when the upstart American Basketball Association was raiding the NBA for talent, he, along with three other top NBA "lead" referees - Joe Gushue, Earl Strom and John Vanak - jumped to the ABA with multi-year contracts. As a result, professional officiating salaries dramatically increased.
In the ABA, Drucker officiated and also served as the league's Supervisor of Officials. When the NBA and ABA merged in 1976, Drucker returned to the NBA. He retired as an official in 1977 after having officiated in over 25 NBA and ABA championship-round games and in 3 NBA and 2 ABA All-Star Games.
In his 24-year career, Drucker was well-known for his even-handed officiating for visiting teams in an era when many NBA officials were criticized as "homers" - favoring the home team. On the court, he holds the distinction of being the only referee ever to eject Wilt Chamberlain from an NBA game, calling two technical fouls on Chamberlain on March 15, 1967.
In the early 1960s he was involved in a heated "feud" with legendary Boston Celtics coach Red Auerbach. His second ejection of Auerbach in a one-month period led to the coach's suspension by NBA president Maurice Podoloff.
After retiring as an official, he served as the NBA's Supervisor of Officials from 1977 through 1981 where he advocated the use of three referees per game. The NBA adopted the three-man officiating system for the 1978-79 season, although the league returned to two officials the next season. The three-official system returned in the 1988-89 season and has been used by the NBA since.
In 1989, he joined the World Basketball League, a minor league, as its first Director of Operations and Supervisor of Officials, a position he held for the four-year life of that league.
Drucker played college basketball at City College of New York (CCNY) under Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Coach Nat Holman. In 1994, he was inducted into the New York City Basketball Hall of Fame. He played professionally for the Trenton Tigers in the American Basketball League and for the Troy Celtics in the New York State Professional League from 1946 to 1949. He served as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army during World War II. His son, Jim Drucker, served as commissioner of the Continental Basketball Association from 1978 to 1986, and was ESPN's legal correspondent from 1989 to 1993.
Drucker is retired and lives in North Miami Beach, Florida.