Joey Crawford is one of the most prominent referees in NBA history. In 2016, he retired after a 39-year-long career which earned him a reputation as a tough and direct in his verbal communication.
Everybody remembers that famous game back in 2007 which involved Tim Duncan and Crawford. Crawford gave out one technical after another one simply because Duncan was smiling while sitting on the bench.
This was a poor decision-making but at the same time ridiculous decision by Crawford, especially since, according to Duncan, Crawford even challenged the All-Star to a fight. Consequently, the NBA decided to suspend him for the rest of the regular season and the entire 2007 playoffs.
David Stern who was the NBA commissioner at that time said:”
“As ludicrous and hilarious as it seemed in the moment, Crawford’s decision to give Duncan the gate got serious in a hurry when, according to Duncan, the veteran official challenged the All-Star power forward to a fight. That crossed a line, earning Crawford a suspension for the rest of the regular season and the entire 2007 playoffs — a reprimand delivered, as then-
Commissioner Stern also said in his announcement Crawford had previous bad experiences with coaches, predominantly Don Nelso nad Flip Saunders who both got ejected for no good reason from games which he officiated.
“In light of similar prior acts by this official” that merited such a “significant” penalty. (Those “prior acts” included the time he ejected Don Nelson from a playoff game for staring at him with his arms folded and another incident in which he’d exploded on Flip Saunders heading into halftime, among others.)”
Crawford revealed to ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan in a portion of her ongoing series on mental health in the NBA that focused on the stress, anxiety and other issues that referees face, doing so wasn’t necessarily all his idea:
“Stern suspended me for the rest of the season. 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. This guy is going to make a determination on whether I’m crazy or not. I go up, and I’m scared to death. I’ve already been fined $100,000. I’m in a suit, and I’ve got sweat all the way down to my belt. So, this psychiatrist didn’t know a basketball from a volleyball. After two hours, he says, ‘OK, we’re all done.’ I said, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa! I’m supposed to come another day for another couple of hours. Have you already decided I’m crazy?’ He said, ‘You’re not nuts.’ I said, ‘Well, what am I? What’s my problem?’ He said, ‘You’re overly passionate about your job.’ I thought, ‘OK, I can live with that diagnosis!’”
After that meeting, Crawford continued to work with Philadelphia-based sports psychologist Jeff Fish.