Joey Crawford has just been suspended – indefinitely.
(At least through this year’s playoffs.)
I’m not going to rant and rant about it now (maybe later), but here are the pertinent articles and video links:
Other pertinent blog links on my page and Mark Cuban’s
Blog Maverick: Tim Duncan, Joe Crawford and the NBA
The Game That Was
Real Update: Tim Duncan was fined $25,000 for his critical comments about Joey Crawford to the media. This was expected. As you can see from my post “Better Fines”, the NBA fines players and coaches when the publicly critisize game officials. This is the best spent $25k Duncan has ever paid out, and i’d be willing to bet that most of the players and coaches around the league would jump to pay the fine for him for helping to get Joey Crawford throw out of the league, if only for the playoffs.
Rant Update: Per request, i will rant a little more…
(warning: this is a particularly rambling, disconnected, random rant)
Joey Crawford is basically one of the worst refs to ever call a pro sports game by most accounts that i know of. At least in the “modern era”. Certainly by my opinion. He tries to show up players and coaches, and obviously loves the camera being focused on him. If you skim the comments on the Blog Maverick post above, you’ll get some idea what others think (though that is hardly an unbiased forum)
He does a decent job, occasionally, of actually officiating games. There are times when he calls games and there are no stand out problems. The calls seem reasonably fair, and nothing major happens. But then there are other times when he is a loose cannon. He has a dangerous temper and it goes off. That is just not something you can have in a referee. He makes ridiculous (or at least questionable) calls, and if anyone protests, they get a technical foul and are usually ejected shortly thereafter. You can see him giving someone a technical foul in the picture above – it wasn’t very hard to find.
In many ways and to many people he is a good ref. He has called more playoff games than any other, and according to the way the league reviews calls, rates very highly on ‘accuracy’ and making the right calls.
But that comes down to one of the major problems. The NBA and David Stern (the commissioner) have a major problem with the way games are officiated right now. The calls are too inconsistent, and the refs play far too large a part in the game. Some of it is the way new players are playing the game. I think a lot of it is that players are figuring out ways to ‘work the system’.
Example: Players normally do not want to foul someone. If you do, then the person gets to shoot free-throws (if they were shooting) and each player can only foul someone so many times. However, there are now many examples, the most famous being Shaq, where it is a clear and obvious strategy to intentionally foul someone. Most teams only use their top 6-7 players very much during the game. Of those 6-7, only 2-3 usually are in a position where they regularly pick up fouls. So – rather than actually try to play defense against Shaq (which most teams are not equipped to do well) they just foul him – because he is a horrible foul shooter. There are 5 players sitting on the bench with 6 fouls each, plus a few from your main players – that is 34-40 times that you can foul someone and if they aren’t good at shooting free-throws, you will likely get the ball back. The better average free-throw shooters in the NBA shoot 75% or so, and many players that shoot more like 50%-60%. This is the great strategy known as “Hack-a-Shaq”
The bad part is, it works really well.
The NHL has the great “delayed penalty” rule – if one team commits a foul – a penalty is called. However, if the team that was fouled still has the puck and could potentially do something good with it, they get to keep trying. In the NBA, if someone has a good shot at the basket and is likely to make it, most teams just foul the person now and prevent the shot. This makes the game boring, frustrating, and also frustrates the players which usually leads to more real fouls.
So part of this rant is against the broken system of NBA officiating…
But back to Joey Crawford.
He is worse than most.
Where most reffing crews call an average of around 35-45 fouls per game and average less than one technical foul – Joey Crawford’s crew has the infamous distinction of calling two of the worst games in history during the 2003 playoffs between the Spurs and the Mavericks. Joey Crawford himself called 4 technical fouls on Dallas coaches within the first 10 minutes of the game! I am a Spurs fan and can clearly state that this was completly and utterly unwarranted. His crew went on to call 120 fouls and 9 technicals. During the playoffs. And these were two teams that were not known for having attitudes or problem players. This was two of the classiest coache/player sets to play the game in recent history. Joey Crawford became the story of the series (rather than the play on the court) and as a result was warned by David Stern that if it happened again, he would have consequences. Well, here it is.