We shouldn’t all know the names of certain NBA referees if they’re quietly going about their business of calling games consistently and professionally, without abusing their authority by ringing up players for quick and questionable technical fouls, or even ejections that fall along those same lines.
Joey Crawford, however, is one of the biggest NBA stars among those who don’t put on a particular team’s uniform. As one of the most tenured officials remaining in the game, Crawford has a long history of making himself part of the story at times, which can be maddening for both fans and players alike.
Crawford led the officiating crew that called Game 6 between the Grizzlies and the Clippers, and played fast and loose with the whistle all night long. In total, the two teams were whistled for seven technical fouls (five for L.A., two for Memphis), one flagrant foul (on Chauncey Billups), and two superstars in Chris Paul and Zach Randolph were ejected late in the fourth quarter in separate incidents once the game had already been decided.
Not a great look for the league, obviously. But at least in the case of Paul’s ejection, it may have been justified.
The broadcasters don’t do a great job of pointing out exactly what happened here, even after being shown the replay a couple of times. The best look at what Crawford saw comes at the very beginning of the video clip above in real time, where Paul runs to the paint and gives Marc Gasol a shot to the midsection while Gasol’s head is turned toward the basket.
It didn’t appear to be much, but the contact Paul made didn’t seem to be necessary, either. From where Crawford was standing, and given the fact that it had been a physical game that was essentially over with Memphis up by 14 and less than two and a half minutes to play, you can at least see the reasoning behind his decision to send Paul to an early exit.
As of tomorrow, training camps around the league open, and all the focus goes to the 2016-17 season.
For fun, let’s look back one more time at last season — the 50 top circus shots of last season.
Stephen Curry driving the lane and throwing up prayers once he draws contact (and hitting them), there is Russell Westbrook throwing the inbounds pass off an opponent’s back, and so much more. Enjoy. Then let’s get on with next season.
To avoid trash talk, Steven Adams told Kevin Garnett he didn’t speak English
Kevin Garnett intimidates people. In the machismo-fueled world of professional sports nobody comfortably admits they were intimidated, but in the wake of Garnett announcing his retirement, a number of players stepped forward to say exactly that. And that KG trashed talked them fearlessly.
Oklahoma City’s Steven Adams found a way to avoid that — tell KG he didn’t speak English.
Steven Adams reflecting on Kevin Garnett's retirement. Said he pulled the "no English" card when KG tried to talk to him: pic.twitter.com/uUVgisG4vb
Athletes are injecting themselves into the needed national conversation about race, violence, and policing in this nation. That has taken some very public forms, including LeBron James, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony speaking at the ESPYs, and Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the national anthem and leading others to do so. Some NBA players likely will follow Kaepernick’s lead.
Pistons coach/GM Stan Van Gundy likes seeing players speak out.
“I’m encouraged by the fact of what some of those guys stood up and did at the ESPYs and had a conversation,” Van Gundy said. “I’m really proud of the fact that we have guys that not only see the problem, but want to try to do something about it…
“To me, in some ways, (police brutality is) just the most visible to focus on and it goes to deeper inequities in our criminal justice system, our education system so there’s so much to focus on,” Van Gundy said. “I think it’s great that we have players that want to be part of that conversation, and a lot of players that want to go beyond the conversation and be part of the solution.”
Van Gundy has been telling his players part of that solution is to vote.
The players union and NBA sent out a release saying they wanted to work together to create positive change, but details are still vague on what that might be. The only thing we know for sure as we head into the NBA season — with as divided a nation and election as anyone can remember as a backdrop — is that some NBA players are going to try and keep the conversation going.
Sunday is 16th anniversary of greatest dunk ever: Vince Carter over Frederic Weis
In an impressive career — two-time All-NBA, eight-time All-Star, hours and hours of crazy highlights — this is always going to be the highlight at the top of the list. So we will use the anniversary of this dunk to look at it one more time.