An End to a Long Career

Jack Smith, Sports Reporter

Longtime NBA referee Joey Crawford loved basketball as a kid. But when he watched games, he didn’t want to be Wilt Chamberlain or Bob Cousy. Crawford dreamed of being the next Richie Powers or Mendy Rudolph.

It’s over now, after four decades-plus of running up and down a court causing too much damage to his right knee. He worked his last game on November 5th and tried to rehab for the final games of the regular season and one final playoff run. But the knee wouldn’t allow it.

“I just didn’t want to make a fool out of myself,” Crawford said. “It’s been too good.”

Turning in the whistle has not been easy. He watches games, helps out in the NBA’s replay center and hopes to find a job with the referee operations department staff.

“I get a little emotional about it,” Crawford said. “When I was 18, I started doing grade school stuff and all of a sudden it stops, and you’re like, ‘What do I do now?’ It’s not as easy as I thought.

“I thought it was going to be a little easier. You’re constantly talking to yourself, ‘Turn the page. It’s somebody else’s turn.’ In reality, you’re fighting it every day. You want to be out there. You want to do it, and you know you can’t.”

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