The best kinds of referees (or officials or umpires) in any sport really, are the ones who you forget about. No one talks about them after the game, because there is nothing to talk about. They let the players decide the outcome of the competition, and don’t attract attention to themselves because, quite frankly, it’s not about them.
And then, there are officials like Joey Crawford.
Last night, as the New York Knicks had their 13 game winning streak snapped by the gritty Chicago Bulls, Crawford seemed to think that the all of the fans in the Windy City didn’t come to see Carmelo Anthony and Nate Robinson each go for 35+ points ; he officiated the game like he was the star of the show.
Over a span of 10 seconds in the second quarter, Anthony drew three fouls on the Bulls, but was given a technical foul for taunting Jimmy Butler (who took a shot at the NBA scoring leader’s on-court composure before the game). Then, the 5’9” Robinson, a former Knick, was given a technical for mouthing off to Anthony. Just a couple of minutes after this nonsense, Luol Deng, a notably mild-mannered player, was issued the third technical of the quarter, all of them being issued by Crawford.
J.R. Smith was hit with technical foul in the overtime period for appearing frustrated after getting whacked as he went up for a contested shot around the rim. I’ve seen players do so much worse than what Smith did and not receive any fouls, but, of course, Smith’s reputation must have played a part in that call.
Crawford is a wannabe star. In 2007, he challenged Tim Duncan to a fight after ejecting him for laughing while on the bench. Duncan is one of the most humble, soundless superstars that the NBA has ever seen, and has only totaled two ejections over his 16 season career.
Crawford has been officiating since 1977, but need to either calm down the little show that he puts on when his games are nationally televised (Knicks/Bulls was on TNT), or retire.
The game is about the players, not the refs.