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Blanca Burns is the first Mexican-born woman in an NBA official role. Photo: Scott Taetsch/Getty Images.
Blanca Burns is the first Mexican-born woman in an NBA official role. Photo: Scott Taetsch/Getty Images.

Blanca Burns is the first Mexican-born woman to become an NBA official

The NBA referee made her debut back in December this season during a game between the Utah Jazz and the San Antonio Spurs.

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On Dec. 27 of last year, NBA referee Blanca Burns became the first Mexican-born woman to occupy an NBA official role.

Her debut was in a Utah Jazz and San Antonio Spurs game, where Spurs coach Gregg Popovich expressed some grievances with the referee. 

Despite Popovich’s vocal berating, Burns believes the parents of middle school students have delivered the most remarkable scorning in her career.

After the Jazz-Spurs game, Burns was calling a game for the Los Angeles Lakers and the Memphis Grizzlies.

It was in Oklahoma City that Burns first began working preschool league games at a YMCA for $25 a game.

Growing up, Burns’ family moved around a few times, but her love of basketball persisted and grew from Torreón, Coahuila to El Paso, and then to Oklahoma.

At the Mid-America Christian University in Oklahoma City, Burns played two seasons in the NAIA league as a point guard. 

With her Jazz-Spurs debut, Burns became the first Mexican-born woman to officiate an NBA game through the referee role. Now her scope is larger than ever.

The trailblazing referee notes bucket list items such as officiating at the Olympic Games as a means to present Mexico to an international audience. 

The next step for Burns now is to become a regular NBA referee. She is currently included in the G League’s part-time officials.

Out of 75-full time NBA officials, six women are included. This is the highest number of women in the league’s history. Overall, 42% of the G League referees are women, says the NBA.

Burns will continue to spread her influence in multiple ways, including the support she offers to girls interested in the sport as she was.

"I try to go to summer camps and reach out to girls at the high school level and tell them it's possible for women to do this," Burns told ESPN.

As the NBA furthers plans to expand into Latin America, Burns’ role may become more defined as she works in the NBA’s ever-changing environment.

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