NBA referee Joey Crawford’s 39-year career has come to an end.
This season, which is Joey Crawford’s 39th in the NBA, is his last season in the league as he planned to retire after this season. He had surgery in December to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee and hoped to return to the court by March 1 and referee through the playoffs, according to ESPN. However his knee hasn’t responded well to rehabilitation and he will not be able to return because of that.
“You turn the page, y’know, and you think, ‘It’s somebody else’s turn,’ ” Crawford said in a statement to NBA.com. “But you still miss it. You miss the people. I’m just lucky that a lot of the refs, they’ll call me up. I don’t know if they do it because they feel sorry for me, but they’ll say, ‘Can you break down a quarter for me here or a quarter there?’ I was lucky.”
He also said in his phone interview he had been having calf strains for 35 of the years he had been working with the NBA, but over the last couple of years, it was getting worse. He said it was better to just “move on.”
Joey Crawford went on to say that if he had continued working, “I would have been draggin’ the leg, to be honest with you. And I didn’t want to go out that way.” He said he had a good run in his line of work and he didn’t want his injury to “detract from the game or anything.” He didn’t want to “short-change the game. The game’s been too good to me.”
Joey Crawford, 64, became an NBA referee in 1977. He earned a reputation as a technically proficient referee and was known to call technical fouls. In 1998 he was one of eight referees who was charged with falsifying tax documents in an effort to hide undeclared income based on downgraded airline tickets.
In April 2007, he faced suspension from the playoffs due to a run-in with Tim Duncan with the San Antonio Spurts. He worked 2,561 regular-season games, which is second all-time to Dick Bavetta (2,635), and worked 374 playoff games, most of any active ref, and his 50 NBA Finals appearances are second behind Mendy Rudolph, according to NBA.com. In 2014 Crawford was the recipient of the Golden Whistle Award, which is the highest honor a referee can obtain. The honor was given from the National Association of Sports Officials.
Joey Crawford is scheduled to work in the NBA’s replay center on March 25 and 26. He hopes that he can work there through the playoffs.