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Veteran NBA ref Dick Bavetta retires after 39-year career

FILE - In this May 24, 2008, file photo, NBA referee Dick Bavetta makes a point during the second quarter of Game 3 of the NBA basketball Eastern Conference finals between the Boston Celtics and the Detroit Pistons in Auburn Hills, Mich. Bavetta is retiring after a 39-year career in which he never missed an assignment.

Duane Burleson/AP

NBA referee Dick Bavetta is retiring after a 39-year career in which he never missed an assignment.

Bavetta officiated a record 2,635 consecutive regular-season games after starting his NBA career on Dec. 2, 1975. He also worked 270 playoff games, including 27 in the NBA Finals.

NBA president Rod Thorn says Tuesday in a statement that the league is "grateful for his contributions to our league, and we wish him the best as he enjoys his well-earned retirement."

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Bavetta, 74, also worked the 1992 Olympics, the first involving NBA players, and has officiated in leagues in New York and New Jersey. He is most proud of his streak, which last season surpassed even the 2,632 consecutive games played by baseball ironman Cal Ripken Jr.

Bavetta says, "It really has been a great run."

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