Mid-April is usually an exciting time for the NBA. They playoffs are drawing ever so near, battles for seeding or playoff berths are heating up fast, and even those vying for the 8th seed are excited because anything can happen. 2007 was one of those years that proved just that, when the 8th-seeded Golden State Warriors upset the league-favorite Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the playoffs, becoming the first 8th seed to do so since the first round was expanded to a best-of-seven format.
That upset would pave the way for the Spurs to glide their way to their fourth championship with relative ease (outside a heated second round match-up with the Suns), but none of those things are what we’re here to commemorate today. While this April 15 is not-so-hot as sports and the world as a whole remain at a standstill due to the Coronavirus pandemic, it is still the 13-year anniversary of one the more controversial (and in hindsight funniest) moments in Spurs history.
13 years ago today, Tim Duncan received the one and only ejection of his storied 19-year career. It came at the hands of the infamous Joey Crawford, who was in an especially curmudgeonly mood that night. Having already been assessed a technical for arguing an offensive foul call during a heated match-up in Dallas, Duncan was later seen sitting on the bench and laughing, which Crawford presumed was directed at him. He ejected Timmy on the spot, much to the Spurs’ confusion but the Mavs crowd’s delight.
Duncan would later claim after the game that Crawford had challenged him to a fight. For his part, he was fined the standard $25,000 for “verbal abuse of an official”, but Crawford was the one who truly took the punishment. Not only did the game receive the label of one of the worst officiated games in league history at the time, but Crawford was ultimately suspended for the remainder of the season and playoffs, ending his 21-year streak of officiating in the postseason. (Hey, if nothing else there’s someone else the Spurs have beaten with their 22-year streak that’s still very much in doubt!)
It took several sessions of anger management and reassurances that he had changed before the league decided to reinstate him that September, and to his credit Crawford has admitted fault for the incident, calling it one of the two biggest regrets of his career. Still, it’s a moment that will live on in infamy (likely forever thanks to the internet), and something we can all look back and laugh at today, which is perfect in a time when everyone could use something to smile about.