The San Antonio Spurs likely cracked a collective smile upon learning that Joey Crawford is hanging up his whistle for good at the end of the season.

Head coach Gregg Popovich, in a classy and diplomatic gesture, paid tribute to the longtime ref who’s been a thorn in his team’s side for many years.

Pop claims that Crawford will be missed around the NBA.

Per The Express-News:

“Everybody’s got to retire sometime. You and I will too,” Popovich said before the Spurs faced Houston on Saturday. “But you hate to see someone who is that good at his craft not be doing it anymore. He’s obviously been an iconic figure for a long time.”

 

Crawford forever became a villain to fans in San Antonio in 2007, when he ejected Tim Duncan from a game in Dallas for laughing on the bench. The league ultimately deemed that an overreaction, and suspended Crawford for the playoffs that year. […] In 2008, Crawford’s no-call at the end of Game 4 of the Western Conference finals, when Derek Fisher bumped Brent Barry on the potential game-tying shot, allowed the Lakers to take a 3-1 lead back to Los Angeles. A day later, the NBA ruled Crawford should have sent Barry to the line, leading to one of a best quotes in the quotable guard’s career.

 

Even so, Crawford consistently has graded out as one of the league’s top officials. He has worked 50 NBA Finals games, a number he hopes to add to after returning in March, as planned. […] “He lives and breathes what he does and he does it very, very well,” Popovich said. “He will definitely be missed.”