Stern suspends referee Crawford for remainder of season

Apr 17, 2007 - 8:32 PM NEW YORK (Ticker) -- David Stern didn't think Joey Crawford's treatment of Tim Duncan was anything to laugh about.

The NBA commissioner suspended Crawford - one of the league's premier referees - indefinitely on Tuesday for "improper conduct and a lack of professionalism."

The suspension stems from Sunday's incident in which Crawford assessed two technical fouls on the superstar of the San Antonio Spurs in a 76-second span of the third quarter in a game against the Dallas Mavericks.

Citing improper conduct toward Duncan, Stern lowered the boom on the 31-year veteran whose suspension will cover at least the remainder of the season, including the NBA Playoffs and Finals.

"Joey Crawford's handling of this situation failed to meet the standards of professionalism and game management we expect of NBA referees," Stern said. "Especially in light of similar prior acts by this official, a significant suspension is warranted.

"Although Joey is consistently rated as one of our top referees, he must be held accountable for his actions on the floor, and we will have further discussions with him following the season to be sure he understands his responsibilities."

During his stellar career, Crawford's 266 playoff and 38 Finals games are the most among active officials. He also is one five officials to have worked at least 2,000 regular-season games.

Duncan's second technical came while he was laughing while seated on the bench. The normally stoic Duncan was in disbelief as he was escorted to the locker room.

"Joey has a personal problem with me and I can't do anything about that," Duncan said after the game. "I said three words to him the entire night and the other words where when he gave me technicals, so obviously he's got a personal problem with me.

"He looked at me and said, 'Do you want to fight? Do you want to fight?' I didn't say anything to him anyway. If he wants to fight, we can fight. I don't have any problem with him, but we can do it if he wants. I have no reason why in the middle of a game he would yell at me, 'Do you want to fight?'"

However, Stern still fined Duncan $25,000.