Referee Crawford has got to go |

Referee Crawford has got to go

NBA Commissioner David Stern’s ouster of long-tenured referee Joey Crawford was as just as it was ironic.

The man whose job of 29 years has been to keep players in line, maintaining the league’s criteria of professionalism when tempers and emotions inevitably run high, was clearly out of line himself Sunday.

On Tuesday he got dealt with in similar fashion to the many players who have felt his wrath over the years, none more so than San Antonio Spurs star Tim Duncan this past weekend.

Therein lies the irony and justice of Stern’s authoritative decision, which was to suspend ” or eject, to put it in referee-player terms ” Crawford indefinitely.

For Crawford, it was a bitter taste of his own medicine. And rightfully so.

There’s no place in the sport for the power-trippin’ display he put on. Fans don’t fork out hundreds, even thousands, of dollars to attend NBA games to witness a referee steal the drama.

Officials should be as invisible as possible ” non-factors, in essence, unless a player’s actions warrant discipline. Duncan’s did not.

For those who did not see or read about the incident, here’s a little background; for those who could care less, read no further.

Joey Crawford, who has officiated more than 2,000 regular-season games during his career as an NBA referee, ejected the passive center from a game against the Dallas Mavericks this past weekend after calling a second technical foul while Duncan was laughing from the bench.

That’s right, laughing. Not complaining about a call, not spiking the ball in frustration, shoving an opponent or committing a hard flagrant foul.

Laughing. From the bench.

What’s Crawford doing eyeballing a player sitting on the bench, anyway? His attention should be on the court, where the game he is in charge of officiating is being played.

This pretty well validates Duncan’s claim that the ref has a vendetta against him. After all, he wasn’t yapping in Crawford’s ear, tossing F-bombs in his direction or in any other way acting as a distraction to the game. Duncan also claims the official asked him if he wanted to fight.

Crawford’s defense ” of course he denied part about wanting to fight ” was that Duncan was laughing behind his back. So what.

If he truly were laughing behind his back, Crawford wouldn’t have seen it because his back would have been turned, as it should have been.

What’s more, according to the commissioner, Crawford’s power trip the other night was not a first. It also wasn’t the first time Stern has confronted him regarding a similar situation.

And yet he shows no remorse.

Even after learning of his indefinite suspension, Crawford said that he would not have reacted differently, adding that if Stern feels that he was out of line, then there is a problem.

At least he understands that.

Until he swallows his pride and honestly concedes that he was wrong, even if he is one of the better officials in the game, he should not be allowed to return.

Sylas Wright is the sports editor of the Sierra Sun. He can be reached at

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