Calvin Headley, who was affectionately known as Snake, refereed the sport for junior high, high school, university, college and professional leagues for many years.
Ken Fells, a past president with the Metro Association of Basketball Officials, said Headley died on Wednesday after falling down the stairs last week.
"Everybody knew who he was. Everybody knew he was going to call the game the way the game should have been called. When you're called by name when you come in the door as a referee, then you know you're popular with the fans, you're popular with the players and you're popular with the coaches," Fells told CBC News.
"I would miss mostly the camaraderie and the companionship."
News of Headley's death comes only a day after Saint Mary's University announced Naomie Fequiere, a player on the Huskies women's basketball team, had died in a car crash in Florida.
Paul Hanson, who was friends with Headley for 15 years, said Headley loved all sports and was an enthusiastic supporter of Nova Scotia athletes.
"He knew all the players, he knew all the officials. He has a garage — or a barn we call it — in his yard. When you go into it, he's got clippings from every level of sport throughout Nova Scotia for the last 50 years, just plastered all over his barn," said Hanson.
"Any accomplishment of a Nova Scotia athlete, Calvin had a clipping up there. It wasn't just basketball related, it was all levels of sport."