It’s still weird to think that Joey Crawford isn’t officiating NBA games anymore. He is maybe the most recognizable official of all-time, famous for calling a strict (but generally pretty fair) game and sometimes doing really silly things on the basketball court.
The most notable moment involving Crawford during his career came in 2007, when he ejected San Antonio star Tim Duncan for laughing on the bench. It is one of the most bizarre things to happen in the league in the last decade, as there was an allegation that Crawford asked Duncan if he wanted to fight and Crawford was suspended for the remainder of the season.
Now, Crawford is retired, but in a recent interview with ESPN, the 64-year-old Philadelphia native said that he still regrets the altercation with Duncan to this day.
There are situations that you regret. The Duncan thing is always a big thing, I regret that. There are numerous interactions that you have with players and coaches, that you get back into the hotel and say, “Why did I say that to him? Why did I do that? That was dumb! Stupid!” Those kind of things wore on me. My last nine to 10 years was a lot better because I wasn’t going through the inner turmoil. … After I went to a sports psychologist, I knew when I screwed up and I tried not to do it again, and even if I did screw up, I would apologize immediately. … As bad or as hard as that was to go through in 2007, it was something I did, I learned from it. I was lucky that Stern gave me my job back and I moved on. I tried to use it as a positive. It was hard to use it as a positive because there was so much negative that came out of it.
Part of the reason he still regrets this is that he still gets asked about the incident, saying that he is known for it and that he “can’t go anywhere without somebody asking me about Tim Duncan.” Crawford also mentioned that he’s never discussed the incident with San Antonio’s timeless star.
I would talk to him tomorrow. … I have not reached out to him and he has not reached out to me. What would I say to him? Great question! I would just say to him that it cost me more money than it cost you if we went by percentages of salary. No, you know what? I would just say to him, if we got down to it, the nitty gritty, we are sitting there having a couple of beers, I would say, “Hey, I made a mistake.”
The whole interview features plenty of non-Duncan material, including another one of his biggest regrets: the fact that he never got the chance to appreciate some of the amazing things he witnessed during his officiating career.
Unfortunately, he doesn’t touch on that time he fouled Damon Jones, which I hope they’re saving for the follow-up interview.