Quite frankly, it’s something that the NBA did well to not publicize as the unofficial “good riddance” tour throughout the rest of the season would’ve been an embarrassment that the league would rather avoid.
Did you notice that Joey Crawford had actually been out of action with an injury?
You may not have noticed it directly, but it probably just dawned on you that it’s been awhile since an NBA referee made the game about himself. We could all owe that to Crawford being out with an injury.
On Thursday, Crawford announced that, due to his injury, his retirement would begin immediately. So his exit interview was conducted a little early by NBA.com’s Steve Aschburner.
Of course, Tim Duncan came up. The entirety of Crawford’s career could be summed up in one incident: a game in Dallas in which Crawford issued Tim Duncan two technical fouls and tossed him from a game for laughing at calls from the bench.
Crawford even challenged Duncan to a fight, because that’s who Joey Crawford is.
“I was very, very arrogant,” Crawford said in the story regarding the Duncan incident. “I had to constantly be told, ‘You need to do a little personality overhaul, Joe.’ The Duncan thing? That was my fault. I can say this, I was a lot better my last 10 years than I was my first 29 years.”
Even a cursory glance at Crawford’s career shows that he’s either outright lying about being better in his last 10 years or he just forgot about the last 10 years altogether.
In the 2015 NBA Finals, he yelled at Timofey Mozgov to “shut up.”
How about this doozy from the 2010 playoffs in which he made up a foul out of thin air?
He once made a pa announcer issue a correction even though he should have no control over what the pa announcer does, nor does he realize that not everything the pa announcer says is official in the NBA record books.
He once issued a technical foul because… I don’t know how to explain it… a player was taking elbows the wrong way? You’ll have to watch it to believe it.
He once gave Matt Barnes a technical. Now, Matt Barnes has committed and earned a lot of technical fouls, but this is ridiculous.
He iced Kevin Durant at the free throw line in the final minute of the 4th quarter of a playoff game because the wrong number of team fouls was on the scoreboard. Perfect time to do that.
There was that time he berated and nearly tossed a mop boy from a game.
Joey Crawford was a referee for a very long time. Tenure alone was the reason he was considered among “the best in the business” because I can’t imagine anyone would look back at Crawford’s career and say to themselves, “man, that guy was great at his job.”
There might be some people that say, “Hey, everyone makes mistakes. Bad calls get made.” But keep in mind that all of the examples I just listed of Crawford being really bad at his job were after the Duncan incident when he was supposedly “a lot better.”
I didn’t include every embarrassing mistake, but it’s enough to make my point.
He probably had lots of good games and was reliable most of the time. But when the exceptions are so bad and embarrassing and enough to put together a low-light reel that would shame any referee as among the worst in the industry… you’re not very good at your job.
Joey Crawford never had a bias against one team or even a small group of players. He had a bias for himself, to make himself bigger than any game for which he was an official.
For that reason, no one is going to miss him.