Joey Crawford will officiate Game 6 of the NBA Finals along with Mike Callahan and Ken Mauer, the NBA announced Tuesday morning. Crawford, who has a controversial history with Spurs star Tim Duncan, also worked Game 2 of the Finals, which the Heat won 103-84 in an easy blowout.
Crawford, an NBA referee since 1977, is one of the league’s most experienced and recognizable referees. His name is often a trending topic on Twitter when he works games and he made headlines in November for high-stepping from the baseline to the three-point line to make a call during a game between the Lakers and Pacers.
Game 2 marked the first time Crawford, 61, officiated a Finals game involving the Spurs since he was suspended by the NBA in 2007 following a controversial and unusual ejection of Tim Duncan, who was booted from the third quarter of an April 15 game against the Mavericks for laughing while seated on the Spurs' bench.
The NBA cited “improper conduct and a lack of professionalism” in suspending Crawford for the remainder of the 2006-07 season and the entire 2007 playoffs. Crawford sat at home as the Spurs went on to win their most recent title, the fourth of Duncan’s career, but he eventually had his suspension lifted prior to the start of the 2007-08 season.
The Associated Press and ESPN.com reported Duncan, who was fined $25,000 for “verbal abuse of an official” for his role in the incident, told reporters in 2007 Crawford had a “personal vendetta” against him and that Crawford asked him if he wanted to fight before the ejection.
“He looked at me and said, ’Do you want to fight? Do you want to fight?”’ Duncan said. “If he wants to fight, we can fight. I don’t have any problem with him, but we can do it if he wants to. I have no reason why in the middle of a game he would yell at me, ’Do you want to fight?”’