Joey Crawford will always be linked to San Antonio Spurs legend Tim Duncan for an infamous ejection, but there's another moment in their bizarre history that the former NBA referee wishes he could redo.
Because Crawford and his crew let something slip by them—and they lost some money as a result.
Crawford, whose officiating career came to an end earlier this season because of a knee injury, spoke to ESPN's Ohm Youngmisuk about his 39 years in the NBA. While there were plenty of interesting tidbits in the interview, perhaps the most noteworthy details came when Crawford revealed his crew was fined for a miscue in the 2013 NBA Finals, which featured the Spurs and Miami Heat.
Fortunately for the refs, it wasn't a championship-deciding error.
Anybody who watched Game 6 will never forget the shot that Ray Allen knocked down in the final seconds of regulation to tie it. Miami pulled out a 103-100 victory in overtime and won Game 7 two days later, stealing a championship right out of the Spurs' grasp. But Crawford can only think about what happened in the immediate aftermath of the shot:
I am looking at Duke Callahan and he was the slot [referee]. And Allen shoots it and it goes in and he is behind the 3-point line. So Duke says, "I want to go to the replay." I said, "Why?" [Callahan says] it's too important. So we go over and what happens? Duncan came into the game. And he's not allowed to come into the game [during a review]. Thank God he didn't score a bucket [after that]. That would have been awful. So then we get fined. We blew a rule. I told Duke, "You should pay my fine."
Had Duncan scored the game-winning basket in the 5.2 seconds before overtime, Crawford and Co. would have had a much bigger problem than losing a piece of their paychecks. They would forever be a part of a controversial finish on the game's biggest stage—a mistake no official wants to be a part of.
Youngmisuk also asked Crawford what it was like to officiate during a special moment or game. He said that while he wishes he could have appreciated arguably the greatest clutch shot in NBA history, he was unable to do so because he was doing his job.
That is one of my regrets that looking back all these years that I did not appreciate all the great things that players did because you were reffing. So you didn't appreciate the shot that Ray Allen hits [against San Antonio in Game 6 of the 2013 Finals]. You can't. Maybe I will look at it years later. Even if I looked at it today, I would still be saying where was I looking on the Ray Allen shot.
Again, Crawford provided plenty of intriguing answers in the interview, like what he would say to Duncan today about the ejection or why he once stopped a free-throw attempt by Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant.
Now that his career is over, Crawford can speak as freely as he wants about some of his most memorable experiences in the league. As we all know, he has played a part in his fair share of bizarre moments.