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Gushue worked as a carpenter and refereed community games before for being spotted by Sid Borgia, who saw him refereeing a summer league game while on vacation. He was invited to try out for the NBA in 1961.
In 1969, when the upstart American Basketball Association was raiding the NBA for talent, Gushue, along with three other top NBA "lead" referees—John Vanak, 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.
Gushue retired from refereeing after the 1984 season and returned to his former profession as a carpenter. He died on November 12, 1996, aged 64.
- 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
- Clark, Joe; Jasner, Phil (November 14, 1996). "Joseph J. Gushue, Retired Nba Referee". Philadelphia Daily News. Retrieved April 8, 2013.
- Sama, Dominic (November 14, 1996). "Joseph J. Gushue, 64, Former Nba Referee". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved April 8, 2013.