The fine is automatic for a coach or player who complains publicly about the officiating in the National Basketball Association.

But that hasn't been a deterrent this season.

Bullet Elvin Hayes says, "There are just a lot of incompetent officials in the league."

Denver coach Larry Brown said he feels some of the officials go out of their way to make things rough on the four American Basketball Association teams admitted to the NBA this season.

"We've been second-class citizens for so long that I'm getting tired of it." Brown said. "Some of the older NBA officials run by the bench and point fingers at me and shout one-liners and I don't appreciate it. If I mess up, O.K., make the call. I deserve it. But do it the way it should be done. Don't make a personal thing out of it. I think when they go around pointing fingers at people, the game stinks."

Bullet coach Dick Motta has been openly critical of the officiating on a number of occasions and said he feels the officials aren't letting Leonard Gray play his normal type of physical game.

Motta also said one of the reasons he decided to play Dave Bing more and Larry Wright less in recent games was because a rookie like Wright is not as likely to get the benefit of a close call as a player of Bing's stature.

"At this time of year, one call can mean a lot," Motta said.

The NBA has 26 officials, and increase of five from last year when there were four fewer teams. At the end of each season, the officials are rated and the four with the lowest ratings are not asked to return.

During the playoffs, only the higher-rated officials work, which means about 13.

In my book, the best officials are Jake O'Donnell Darell Garretson, Earl Strom, Richie Powers, Don Murphy, Lee Jones, Manny Sokol and Paul Mihalak.