Former NBA referee Joey Crawford sought therapy following one of the most infamous ejections in League history.
David Stern, the commissioner at the time, suspended Crawford for the remainder of the season—and the playoffs—and ordered him to meet with a sports psychologist after he booted Tim Duncan from a game for essentially laughing at him from the bench.
It isn't easy to be a ref.
— ESPN (@espn) August 23, 2018
Crawford, 66, retired two years ago and says the relationship he developed with Dr. Joel Fish saved his career.
“The Duncan incident was in 2007. Duncan was sitting on the bench laughing. And I threw him. That laugh bothered me. I thought it was incredibly disrespectful. But I knew the minute it happened I was gonna be in trouble.
“[The suspension] was a big deal. It really shook me. That’s when I realized, ‘I gotta do something about this.’ I had to talk to a professional to help me deal with all the anger.
“Stern suspended me for the rest of the season. I thought there was a good chance my career might be over. Stern orders me to go see a Park Avenue psychiatrist. He tells me to go twice — two hours each session. This guy is going to make a determination on whether I’m crazy or not. I go up, and I’m scared to death. I’ve already been fined $100,000. I’m in a suit, and I’ve got sweat all the way down to my belt. So, this psychiatrist didn’t know a basketball from a volleyball. After two hours, he says, ‘OK, we’re all done.’ I said, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa! I’m supposed to come another day for another couple of hours. Have you already decided I’m crazy?’ He said, ‘You’re not nuts.’ I said, ‘Well, what am I? What’s my problem?’ He said, ‘You’re overly passionate about your job.’ I thought, ‘OK, I can live with that diagnosis!’
“The problem was my aggression. I took it to the ninth degree. I was too wrapped up in it.”