Trought his career Tim Duncan was known for being the quiet and most calm star you can find in the NBA. But in one instance, in a 2007 game against the Dallas Mavericks, everything was not quiet, due to an incident between referee Joey Crawford and Tim Duncan.
The situation started when Duncan was called for an offensive foul, as he glared at a referee with a confused look. Shortly after, a foul was called on the Spurs again, which sent the Mavericks to the free throw line. After the successful free throw, Crawford blew his whistle and signaled a technical foul on Duncan, who was on the bench and reacted to the offensive foul on him and the ensuing foul on his teammate.
On the bench, Duncan smirked and laughed while playfully clapped his hands at the call. Minutes later, after a blocking foul on the Spurs, Duncan hysterically laughed on the bench and found himself ejected by Crawford, who handed him a second technical foul.
After the conversation with Stern, Crawford was suspended for the rest of the season and ordered to meet with a sports psychologist. Joey Crawford said it saved his career:
“The Duncan incident was in 2007. 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. That’s when I realized, ‘I gotta do something about this.’ I had to talk to a professional to help me deal with all the anger.
“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!’
“The problem was my aggression. I took it to the ninth degree. I was too wrapped up in it.”
11 years later, this remains one of the most controversial calls in recent NBA history, although a very a memorable instance, as since then Crawford and Duncan have both retired.