As a general rule, if you’re officiating a sport and manage to become the center of attention, you’ve probably done something wrong.
There are plenty of referees and umpires who insist on inserting themselves into the game for no real reason.
However, there’s no greater offender than Joey Crawford, who would probably go down in the history of as the worst ref in NBA history if Tim Donaghy had never donned a uniform.
Crawford wasn’t necessarily a bad ref when it came to enforcing the rules but he had a penchant for making himself the center of attention for seemingly no reason, like when he danced around the court after calling a blocking foul.
However, there is no single moment that defines the essence of Joey Crawford better than a moment that took place during a game over a decade ago.
During the third quarter of a matchup between the Spurs and the Mavericks, Tim Duncan was chilling on the bench when he was unexpectedly ejected from the game for… laughing?
After the game, Duncan claimed Crawford threatened to fight him and the ref was suspended indefinitely. He never offered a real explanation for the incident but I’m honestly shocked Crawford didn’t just say he ejected Duncan for his fashion sense.
Crawford ultimately sat out the rest of the season and was hit with a $100,000 fine but he recently sat down with ESPN to shed some further light on the incident, revealing David Stern forced him to go to anger management as part of his punishment:
“Duncan was sitting on the bench laughing. And I threw him. That laugh bothered me. I thought it was incredibly disrespectful. But I knew the minute it happened I was gonna be in trouble.
[The suspension] was a big deal. It really shook me. … I thought there was a good chance my career might be over. Stern orders me to go see a Park Avenue psychiatrist. He tells me to go twice — two hours each session.”
Here are some more of Crawford’s terrible calls for old time’s sake.
Gone but never forgotten.