Thank you, Stern: Suspension of an NBA referee long overdue

There are a lot of reasons why my interest in the NBA has waned over the years, not the least of which is the presence of prima donna officials obsessed with stealing the spotlight from the games -- something that is slowly trickling down to college basketball, unfortunately.

Somebody finally did something about it, and that somebody is about the only person who could get away with such a smackdown: NBA dictator David Stern.

It's about time.

If you missed it, the NBA (read: Stern) suspended referee Joey Crawford indefinitely after he allegedly challenged Tim Duncan to a fight after tossing Duncan from a recent game. This latest incident apparently continues a pattern of boorish behavior on the part of Crawford, according to Stern.

By all other measures, Crawford is a good referee -- one of the best, according to the NBA's evaluation system. And don't read this as a defense of NBA players, especially Duncan, who is one of the most consistently whiny players in the NBA.

Instead, let's call this what it is: A long overdue step to put game officials back where they belong. If I asked you to name five more referees besides Crawford and you watch any amount of NBA basketball, I'll bet you could do it. That's just wrong. Officials are supposed to simply arbitrate the games, care for their execution -- not determine their direction.

Too often, that's the case with NBA referees, who should see this as a warning sign to do their jobs.

The NBA took the step at the beginning of the season to reign in its demonstrative players by coming down harder on players who repeatedly receive technical fouls; now it has done the same with its officials. Kudos to Stern for working hard to ensure that no one upstages the game itself any longer.

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