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Tuesday, April 17th 2007

Crawford Suspended

The NBA suspended Joey Crawford through the end of this year and it looks like in response he has resigned.

That Is Quite A Resume:
Felon + Indefinitely Suspended From Your Job

This was the appropriate response by the league. He couldn’t work this year’s playoffs. Not even if he stayed away from Spurs’ games.

[Crawford] apparently will have to meet with Stern after that to discuss reinstatement.

Stern said Crawford’s actions “failed to meet the standards of professionalism and game management we expect of NBA referees.”

“Especially in light of similar prior acts by this official, a significant suspension is warranted,” Stern said in a statement. “Although Joey is consistently rated as one of our top referees, he must be held accountable for his actions on the floor, and we will have further discussions with him following the season to be sure he understands his responsibilities.”

Crawford called two technicals on Tim Duncan, the second for laughing while on the bench, and ejected him on Sunday against the Mavericks. The league also fined Duncan $25,000 for slinging insults at Crawford as he left the court, and criticizing him in the media after the game.

That is a more than fair deal for Duncan. The league handled this beautifully. I criticized them extensively in an original post, and I have to say in this instance none of that was justified.

  • They took their time investigating
  • They made sure Crawford wouldn’t work the playoffs
  • They were public about what Crawford’s reprimand was
  • They gave Duncan a deal even I think is lenient

As much sympathy as Duncan got and as much criticism Crawford initially got, now there seems to be a general movement amongst the writers condemning the “overreaction” of the league. That’s stupid. Stern, Jackson, and the entire NBA front office handled this very well.

What on God’s green earth could be more important than professionalism for an NBA referee? Over the years Crawford has clearly forfeited his professionalism. I don’t care how good Crawford’s marks were in terms of his skill in calling and controlling games (and he did have very good evaluations). You simply cannot challenge a player to a fight. And with his history of histrionics and grandstanding the league’s reaction should’ve been acceptable to all!

It is certainly close enough a reasonable analogy to ask: What should happen to your boss if he threatened you and challenged you to a fight? Hopefully, his ass would be out of there. And Crawford was facing less than that. He was facing a chance to return.

So all this talk that David Stern and Co. overreacted and sacrificed Crawford is ludicrous. And I’m not sure where this talk of inconsistency is coming from in terms of how Stern encouraged referees to call technicals more liberally this season and now is ending refs’ careers over it. Get a clue: if there’s anything David Stern will be remembered for, it is devotion to professionalism. The crackdowns on conduct, the dress code, the heightened standards for media relations. It is almost unquestionable what Stern’s absolute focus has been in this league. And I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he viewed this situation through the same prism of professionalism. So there’s no inconsistency here.

In an accompanying column, Pat Forde gets in a shot by referring to the “notably whiny Duncan,” but he bemoans what he perceives as the development of the power trip ref, at all levels of basketball.

Sometimes, you watch these guys — it’s not just Crawford or that diva of the college game, Ted Valentine — and wonder whether there is a persecution complex/power trip associated with putting that whistle in the mouth. Instead of serving as levelheaded stewards of the game vested with the authority to enforce fair play, they occasionally come across as bouncers in a bad mood while juicing on Dianabol.

Spoiling for a fight with the first guy who mouths off, that is.

You can go read Commissioner Stern’s chat with fans on ESPN Insider (subscription required), where he addresses the issue.