The Top 5 Referee Blow-Ups in NBA History

By: 05.29.12

You don’t have to have coached as long as Doc Rivers to know the simple rule for NBA officiating. If you criticize it, you’ll be fined by the league office. Everyone knows it, and every violator does it for effect. Can I get the refs’ attention before the next game? If I get popped for $25,000 or $35,000 for a comment, will that buy me some time in the refs’ ear next time out?

Rivers had four reasons to blast referees after Monday’s Game 1 loss to Miami in the Eastern Conference finals. Four big, obvious reasons, with technicals given to Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Rivers himself. They were ghost like Swayze. One of my referee barometers is hearing what ESPN’s Mike Breen think about each call. A longtime referee, he’s usually playing Referee’s Advocate (a first-cousin to Devil’s Advocate) on the broadcast. None of the three warranted a defense for the officials on Monday, however. Do you see any in these three that deserve a tech?

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The simple formula will likely kick in tomorrow after Rivers called his own T “the worst I’ve ever had.”

“I know mine wasn’t (deserved). I can tell you that much. I don’t know how long I’ve been in this league, but that has to rank as the worst I’ve ever had. I would have loved to earn it.”

Those, by Danny Crawford, Marc Davis and Ed Malloy, weren’t even the worst of the playoffs — and they all belong to Davis. The first and most laughable was T’ing up the Clippers’ Reggie Evans for high fiving. That’s like giving a traffic ticket for driving with one hand. Second, he just threw out a fan in the Sixers-Bulls series.

Davis was also involved in a bump-and-toss with Rondo in the first round against Atlanta.

The standard fine is about $25,000 for a garden-variety criticism of referees, but that’s fairly common. Jason Kidd, DeMarcus Cousins and Derrick Rose each got those fines this season for their comments. They’re hardly, however, the best blow-ups on a referee in the NBA. Hit the jump to see the top five.

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5. Mark Cuban, 2001. Cubes dropped a ton of money this year on the refs. First, he had the TV operators in Dallas freeze-frame a bad call on the videoboard on the first anniversary of his ownership. That, in turn, cost him $250,000. “The refs were pitiful tonight, and I don’t care if I get fined,” he said after that.
Then, in April he ponied up $100,000 in the NBA’s charity coffers when a “derogatory gesture” cost him $100,000. To which Cubes responded: “I didn’t make a derogatory gesture. I jumped up and grabbed my throat after a missed call, and that was it.”

4. Rasheed Wallace, 2010. It’s never good to insinuate that a ref baited you into a techinical, even if no one believes Wallace has ever need extra motivation to get a T.

“It’s a little bit of madness, actually,” Wallace said. “Because at times I know they’re out there baiting me, like the other night in Game 1. Those two quick fouls, I know that a certain referee was trying to bait me to get a tech. I mean, you could see it coming from a mile away. My main thing is I don’t like to be cheated. I can deal with a loss. I can deal with playing bad. I can deal with getting my (butt) busted. I just don’t like to be cheated, bottom line.”

“We also have to look out for the Wade factor (in game 2),” Wallace said. “We know how it is with TV ratings and all this. Not taking away or saying that he’s not a good player. Don’t get me wrong. But I mean, c’mon, we know what it is. We know this is about the business game as opposed to the basketball game. We already know.”

3. Joey Crawford‘s T on Duncan, 2007. This isn’t a coach or player going off, it’s just so blatant and so ridiculous it even got Duncan to laugh. That’s a big deal, but this was an even worse call. This is like watching an old stadium get imploded, only this time it’s a ref doing the self-desctructing. Crawford was suspended for five months in 2007 for unbecoming conduct after this mess, only allowed back in September of that year.

2. Kobe Bryant, 2011: He directed his anti-gay slur at a ref last April (right before the league’s anti-bullying PSA) and it cost him $100,000. Unllike No. 3, this was all Bryant’s doing. Sure, he was upset at the refs and we get it that this kind of talk probably (still) happens all the time under the breath and inside huddles. Nonetheless, it’s terrible.

1. Mark Cuban, 2002. The comment that cost him half-a-million was for saying Ed Rush “wouldn’t be able to manage a Dairy Queen.”

Probably not the best comment or analogy. In the case of the NBA’s best blow-ups on (or by) a referee, no one is usually as well composed or held together as a Blizzard.

Would you have T’d up the Celtics?

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