RUDOLPH, MARVIN ("Mendy "; 1928–1979), nba referee from 1953 to 1975. Born to Harry, a noted referee who later became commissioner of the semi-professional Eastern Basketball League, Rudolph began his career officiating at the jcc in his hometown of Wilkes-Barre, Pa. In 1946 he became a licensed referee, and began officiating in the ebl. By 1952, the senior Rudolph sensed that his son needed to be more independent, and encouraged him to switch leagues. Rudolph joined the nba in 1953 and was to set a new standard of durability, officiating at over 90 games per season. However, it was the quality of Rudolph's officiating that won him the respect of league officials, coaches, and players alike. In 1969, Rudolph was appointed the league's chief of referees. In a game at Washington in April 1975, Rudolph collapsed and had to be carried off the court. Doctors discovered a blood clot and advised him of the dangers of continuing to referee games. On November 9, 1975, Rudolph announced his retirement, but continued working as a sportscaster, serving as expert commentator for cbs's Game of the Week. Rudolph officiated at a then-record 2,113 games over 23 seasons, a record only surpassed by Hall of Fame referee Earl Strom, who worked for 30 seasons in the nba. Strom, another Jewish Pennsylvanian, described Rudolph as "simply the greatest referee of all time." Before his death in 1994, Strom petitioned the Basketball Hall of Fame to induct Rudolph, but to no avail. Nevertheless, Rudolph is remembered in the basketball world as one of the most astute and fair referees to work the game. Rudolph, who died of a pulmonary aneurism at age 53, was a recipient of the Maurice Stokes Memorial Award in 1975.
[Robert B. Klein (2nd ed.)]