John Joseph Vanak was a referee in the American Basketball Association and the National Basketball Association.
In 1969, when the upstart American Basketball Association was raiding the NBA for talent, Vanak, along with three other top NBA "lead" referees—Joe Gushue, Earl Strom and Norm Drucker—jumped to the ABA with multi-year contracts paying much higher salaries than NBA officials received. As a result, professional officiating salaries dramatically increased.
Vanak officiated in the 1966 NBA All-Star Game, 1970 ABA All-Star Game, 1972 ABA All-Star Game, 1974 ABA All-Star Game, 1977 NBA Finals, 1979 NBA All-Star Game, 1980 NBA Finals, 1981 NBA Finals, 1983 NBA Finals, 1984 NBA All-Star Game and 1985 NBA Finals
^ a b c Pluto, Terry, 'Loose Balls: The Short, Wild Life of the American Basketball Association, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1990, ISBN 978-1-4165-4061-8, p.131-133