Posted June 09, 2013

Joey Crawford to work Game 2 of NBA Finals between Heat and Spurs

2013 NBA Finals, Ben Golliver, Ed Malloy, Joey Crawford, Ken Mauer, Miami Heat, San Antonio Spurs
(Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Joey Crawford once ejected Tim Duncan for laughing. (Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

MIAMI — Joey Crawford, Ed Malloy and Ken Mauer will officiate Game 2 of the Finals between the Heat and Spurs in Miami on Sunday night. The first name on that list is sure to jump out at Spurs fans.

Game 2 will mark the first time Crawford, 61, has officiated a Finals game involving the Spurs since he was suspended by the NBA in 2o07 following a controversial and unusual ejection of Tim Duncan. An NBA referee since 1977, Crawford ejected Duncan from the third quarter of an April 15 game against the Mavericks for laughing while seated on the Spurs bench.

The NBA cited “improper conduct and a lack of professionalism” in suspending Crawford for the remainder of the 2006-07 season and the entire 2007 playoffs. Crawford sat at home as the Spurs went on to win their most recent title, the fourth of Duncan’s career, but he eventually had his suspension lifted prior to the start of the 2007-08 season.

“Although Joey is consistently rated as one of our top referees, he must be held accountable for his actions on the floor,” commissioner David Stern said in a statement at the time. “We will have further discussions with him following the season to be sure he understands his responsibilities.”

The Associated Press and ESPN.com reported Duncan, who was fined $25,000 for “verbal abuse of an official” for his role in the incident, told reporters in 2007 Crawford had a “personal vendetta” against him and that Crawford asked him if he wanted to fight before the ejection.

“He looked at me and said, ’Do you want to fight? Do you want to fight?”’ Duncan said. “If he wants to fight, we can fight. I don’t have any problem with him, but we can do it if he wants to. I have no reason why in the middle of a game he would yell at me, ’Do you want to fight?”’

ESPN.com reported at the time Crawford maintained after the incident that Duncan deserved the two technicals he was given. The veteran referee told the New York Times years later the incident “changed [his] life” because it forced him to better manage his anger issues and led him to increase his visits to a sports psychologist.

In November 2012, Grantland.com cited an academic study that concluded Crawford’s presence officiating Spurs games has had no impact on the team’s performance over the last decade.

[Ryan Rodenberg, a sports economist at Florida State University] concludes there is no evidence that Crawford’s officiating had any real negative impact on the Spurs from the 2001-02 season through last season.

Rodenberg looked at the expected scoring margins and win-loss outcomes of every San Antonio game in that span and measured whether each individual official who refereed a Spurs game during that time — 95 refs in total — had any noticeable impact in either direction. … Joey Crawford is right in that meaty middle section, with all the other officials whose work had no discernible impact on San Antonio’s performance.

“Duncan made it seem like there was some systematic bias against him,” Rodenberg says. “But there wasn’t at all.”

Tim Duncan and Tony Parker pose with a fake Joey Crawford in a Halloween photo. (Deadspin.com)

Still, tensions between the Spurs, the team’s fans and Crawford continue. Those feelings came up again when Crawford happened to be one of the officials during San Antonio’s season-ending loss to Oklahoma City during the 2012 Western Conference finals.

What’s more, a Halloween party photograph surfaced back in December that captured Duncan and teammate Tony Parker pointing fake guns at a man dressed up as Crawford with a hangman’s noose nearby. The Spurs reportedly denied requests for comment on the picture.

Crawford is one of the league’s most experienced and recognizable referees. His name is often a trending topic on Twitter when he works games and he made headlines in November for high-stepping from the baseline to the three-point line to make a call during a game between the Lakers and Pacers.

The suspension that followed Crawford’s incident with Duncan was actually the second of his career, as he was previously reprimanded by the NBA after pleading guilty to tax fraud in 1998. That suspension, like the Duncan suspension, was lifted in fairly short order.

The Spurs hold a 1-0 series lead in the Finals. No team has ever dropped the first two games at home and come back to win a Finals series. Dwyane Wade said Saturday that he understands the stakes at play in Game 2, calling the contest a “must-win” for Miami.

Bottom photo via Deadspin.com

27 comments
nature boy ric f.
nature boy ric f. like.author.displayName 1 Like

Big surprise Heat won at home with more than a little help from the refs.  Just like games 5 & 7 in the ECF.  Every out of bounds tipped ball went to the Heat.  So easy to see it really is pathetic.  No doubt in my mind this bs is rigged.

WilyCoyoteSuperGenius
WilyCoyoteSuperGenius like.author.displayName 1 Like

Crawford is a terrible official. His continued employment is just another proof the NBA is a fixed, joke league. I am sure he will do his master, Stern's bidding and ensure the Heat win tonight. Can't have a four game sweep, it is bad enough the Spurs are representing the West.

dsulliman
dsulliman

Is this common? I wasn't aware or maybe I just didn't notice if referee crews changed or even could be changed during a series, esp the Finals. In the other major sports, the ref/umpire crews are selected to work the World Series/Super Bowl/Stanley Cup based on their performance during the regular season. 

This has the surface appearance of being somewhat shady, and at the least, almost a dictatorial manipulation on the part of Stern and the NBA brass. Essentially this reads like the NBA is bringing this crew in specifically to call more fouls. I've always felt this was the only surefire way the NBA/Stern could effect the outcome of games. Seriously, what if Stern and his cronies spoke to these guys and told them in no uncertain terms, "we must have more fouls called". So expect to see more ticky-tack calls tonight, esp in favor of the big names. This should receive its share of criticism, at least I hope it will. I doubt ESPN will say boo about it.

mrlecorbeau
mrlecorbeau like.author.displayName 1 Like

What other sport can you name more than two refs?

JohnDawson1
JohnDawson1 like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

There is a lot of unemployment nowadays.  NBA refs make plenty of money.  Doesn't the NBA realize that there are plenty of people who would love earn a living as HONEST refs in the NBA?  Why hang on to a guy guilty of tax fraud who has to be disciplined for bias?   Doesn't the league understand that guys like Crawford are subject to influence?  An open invitation to organized crime?  Does Crawford have something on Stern?   This just does not pass the "smell" test.  

GaryGitchell
GaryGitchell like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 3 Like

Not worth my time watching tonight's game with Crawford working it ! I guess I will take my wife to the movies !

OK
OK like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

@GaryGitchell  

Game's in the bag for the Heat. Joey will give it to them at the free throw line.

OK
OK like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 3 Like

Game 7 NBA Eastern Conference Finals

Free Throw Attempts

The Queen and Her Court - 38

The Pacers - 20 (including two in the final 30 seconds)

Seems Commish Stern, the Vince McMahon of Professional Sports, and the accountants at Disney-ABC-ESPN know who will win game two of the NBA Finals and how they will do it. Expect Kawhi Leonard to "foul" out, Old Man Duncan to get two "fouls" in the first quarter, and Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli to be mugged by The Queen and Her Court.

HeatFan786
HeatFan786

Miami won a title in 2006 after dropping the first two games of the final, fyi. 

OK
OK like.author.displayName 1 Like

@HeatFan786  

The Queen was in Cleveland in 2006, fyi

And The Little Bosh Woman wasn't just shooting from Toronto but actually playing for the Raptors, fyi

b305
b305 like.author.displayName 1 Like

@OK @HeatFan786 

Bosh is the Spurs 6th man.

OK
OK

@b305 @OK @HeatFan786  

Actually, that's the blonde who allegedly killed her husband and now launches Middle Finger Salutes courtside in Miami.

Willie_Sean
Willie_Sean

The comment that no team has come back after losing the first 2 games in the NBA Finals is factually incorrect. It has actually happened 3 times - '69 Celtics, '77 Blazers, and '06 Heat have come back on the Lakers, Sixers, and Mavericks, respectively. 

benjamin.golliver
benjamin.golliver like.author.displayName 1 Like

@Willie_Sean None of those teams lost the first two games at home. They all dug out of 0-2 deficits after losing the first two on the road.

Willie_Sean
Willie_Sean

@benjamin.golliver Ben, you edited it after I posted it, thanks.

benjamin.golliver
benjamin.golliver

@Willie_Sean @benjamin.golliver@Willie_Sean Hi Willie, I did not edit it after publishing today but it does look like the text was updated by editorial after it originally published. 
The intended meaning was "at home" as noted in yesterday's post about Dwyane Wade that is linked in that paragraph.
Thanks for your diligence and hopefully we've got this cleared up now.  Sorry for the confusion.

RR
RR like.author.displayName 1 Like

And inserting factually didn't change the what that sentence said. I won't follow you on twitter because you're probably not the brightest.

Willie_Sean
Willie_Sean

@RR RR, you idiot, Golliver edited it after I posted. Go back to sleep.


RR
RR

@Willie_Sean  

First two games AT HOME, idiot

CoryWells
CoryWells

@RR @Willie_Sean rr, i don't think the casual fan get the hang of the home and away game rotation, lol. they're clueless. what they don't understand is, if a team loses the first two games at home, you're more than likely gonna get swept.

This comment has been deleted

OK
OK

Pending, Benny? You can't be serious.