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Ball Don't Lie

Referee Joey Crawford celebrates his 35th year of giving technicals to everyone

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Joey Crawford, Gregg Popovich, and the ancient art of seduction (Getty Images)

Outside of perhaps the ageless Dick Bavetta, veteran referee Joey Crawford is the NBA's most visible ref. With his shaved dome and quick whistle, Crawford is the sort of combative ref that fans of each and every NBA team assume that he personally has it out for. Watch the comment section in this article — of course Joey Crawford hates your team more than any other.

Because it's Joey's 35th as an on-court tastemaker, the New York Times decided to give Crawford a chance to give his own oral history; from his time spent working in the Eastern League, to his struggles with the IRS, to his 2007 suspension for an unfortunate altercation with San Antonio Spurs center Tim Duncan. Crawford, who freely admits to taking in anger management therapy, is candid and appropriate when discussing his career. Some of the anecdotes, if we're honest, have us wondering why he's still in the NBA considering his clear and admitted-to problems with confrontation. The guy must be a really good ref, you'd counter. And we'd agree. He is. Here's one anecdote:

Once, I threw out Don Nelson for staring at me. He just folded his arms and looked at me. He called a timeout to do it. Looking back on it, I was not happy with that.

I have people in Cleveland who stop me at the airport and they say that they were there when I threw out Brad Daugherty and Larry Nance for laughing. They were sitting at the end of the bench. There was something that I did that they didn't like and they wouldn't stop, and I just went: "You want to go? Go. Go." Boom. It wasn't good.

One night, I hit Bill Fitch with a technical so hard, I broke my finger. My finger was all swollen. I slammed my whole hand down on it when I gave the signal. That's why I changed my signal to a little one-finger tap — because I broke it once the old way.

Honestly, I think after that whole mess was the first time I called the sports psychologist.

Yeah, I think it's about time to dial the guy up, once you've broken bones merely by making a "T" with your hands.

And there's this bit, referencing the late Manute Bol:

You know who else was funny? Manute Bol, God bless him. He would knock down a 3, and I'd give him some kind of look as we were running back. He'd catch my eye and he'd hold up one crooked finger and say, in his broken accent, "No. 1 center in league — Manute Bol."

We don't want to quote too much, because this is a terrific read that probably won't change your mind about Joey heading into the click, but it's still worth your time.

And you'd better get wise to the man's ways and means, because he's going to be on your TV quite a bit over the next five weeks.

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