Posts Tagged ‘Joey Crawford’

Veteran ref Bavetta’s streak hits 2,633

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com

There was a miserable morning in Toronto a few years back, when the airport was frozen over and the de-icing trucks were bone dry. He and fellow ref Mike (Duke) Callahan were booked for another game that night in Cleveland, so they rented a car and slid their way out of Ontario, no GPS and only the city of Buffalo as their North Star to navigate to northeast Ohio.

There was the time he had a flight to work a Celtics game re-routed to Bangor, Maine, and bribed a cab driver into taking him overnight to Boston for $400. Even then, they had to stop at the driver’s house first, so he could convince his wife it was OK.

There have been snowstorms in Chicago, a broken nose in New Jersey and the triple-crown of airport lockdowns — LaGuardia, Kennedy and Newark all shut down by weather. Yet even mail carriers with their “neither snow nor rain…” creed could learn a few things from veteran NBA referee Dick Bavetta.

Travel snags and injuries have caused a few close calls, but when the 74-year-old Bavetta works the Brooklyn Nets-New York Knicks game Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden (7 ET, ESPN), he will log his 2,633rd consecutive game. His streak dates back to his NBA debut game on Dec. 2, 1975, which means Bavetta has given the NBA 38 1/2 years of unbroken service without using one sick day.

Why is the number notable? Cal Ripken Jr., the MLB Baltimore Orioles’ Hall of Fame shortstop, pushed his more famous streak of consecutive games to 2,632 after eclipsing Lou Gehrig in 1995.

“They could always find people to work if you had to miss a game, but I never wanted to inconvenience other referees,” Bavetta said from his hotel in New York Tuesday. “To me, it was determination, dedication. I’ve always said, ‘No, we’ve got to give it our best shot to get there.’ “

Bavetta’s Manhattan hotel was close enough this time that, even in the event of a flash blizzard, he could walk to MSG for tipoff between the Nets and Knicks. That meant he only had to avoid a misstep or an overzealous taxi in the crosswalk.


VIDEO: Open Court’s crew recalls Dick Bavetta’s classic footrace with Charles Barkley

Dedicated to honing his craft

Referees’ schedules aren’t made public in advance, so it’s hard to know when one of them actually has stuck to his or not. A full season is pretty much the same as the players and the teams: 82 games. In his first two years, Bavetta was a part-timer, which meant he was scheduled for 68-70 games (making $200 a night, $16,000 a year at the start).

Since then, he has been full-time like no one else, adding 270 playoff games, including 27 in The Finals, to his resume. He has worked multiple All-Star games and international NBA events, as well as the “Dream Team” Olympics in 1992.

Dick Bavetta

Dick Bavetta, shown here in 1995, has been an NBA referee since 1975.

Raised in New York, Bavetta attended Power Memorial, the same Manhattan high school where Kareem Abdul-Jabbar played. He had a first career as a broker on Wall Street, but his brother, Joe, refereed ABA games. That helped draw Dick into the profession. After years of amateur, high school and college games, Bavetta worked in the minors (the Eastern League that morphed into the CBA) for nine years.

Each year, he tried to get to the NBA. Finally, after honing his craft (“I thought I was ready earlier, but I wasn’t”) he made it on his ninth try. Now he ranks as the NBA’s all-time leader among officials in games, with fellow vet Joey Crawford in hot pursuit 100 or so games behind.

“My upbringing was, you didn’t miss days of school and you went to work, regardless of the circumstances,” said Bavetta, the son of a New York cop. “I can’t remember even high school games in New York City or the Eastern League … whatever it would take to get to the game.”

A rough career, on and off the court

His only real concession to the grind has been requesting no back-to-back games for the past five or six seasons. Bavetta had plenty of years doing five games in seven nights or seven in nine, but spacing out his games gives him more travel and recovery time. That’s helpful with the streak, but it does accordion-out his schedule, making it tough to get even consecutive days off. And on the days in between, he still works out — he had just gotten back from a long run through Central Park before he picked up the phone.

Schedules rocked by family members or other things from his personal life? Fuhgedaboudit. They’ve been scheduled around his NBA work.

“I’ve missed birthdays,” Bavetta said. “Haven’t missed weddings.”

Obviously Bavetta has had memorable games prior to this one tonight. He had to go solo at a Celtics-76ers game after partner Jack Madden suffered a broken leg and it ended up being the game in which Larry Bird and Julius Erving grabbed each other by the throat and got tossed. There have been controversial moments, too, as Utah Jazz and Sacramento Kings fans can quickly recall and grumble about from the playoffs.

One game a while back that nearly snapped Bavetta’s streak, though, came in New York. When a skirmish broke out between Knicks center Patrick Ewing and the Pacers’ Jalen Rose that night, Rose threw a punch that missed Ewing and hit Bavetta smack in the nose. “I’m going down and if it wasn’t for the fact I was holding onto Patrick’s jersey, I’d have been down and out,” Bavetta remembered.

Bavetta stubbornly finished the game with a broken nose and a Band-Aid across it, but required micro-surgery the next morning. That was supposed to put him out for at least a week but, hey, he had a Nets game at the Meadowlands the next night. So naturally, he persuaded doctors to give him clearance.

That night, Bavetta went onto the court again with a Band-Aid across his nose. His two fellow refs, goofing on him, did the same and got the folks at the scorers’ table to all tape Band-Aids across their noses, too. Nets forward Jayson Williams already had a broken nose and was wearing one.

So when Charlotte’s Baron Davis walked to center court shortly before tipoff for the captains’ meeting, he wondered what was going on.

Said Bavetta: “I told him, ‘Baron, you can’t attend this meeting unless a Band-Aid on your nose.’ He went back and got one so he wouldn’t be different. … We do whatever it takes to work the game.”

Bavetta keeps chugging along

Bavetta has seen all the changes swirl around him through the years, from two-man crews to the current three, from the “play on!” mentality a few decades ago to the replays and zero-tolerance policy applied by the referees’ overseers today.

As for how much longer, Bavetta said: “I haven’t thought about it. People ask about years. I look at this thing in days. Getting to the next game. I worked in Atlanta Monday, I’m in New York Wednesday. Health is so fleeting – I’ve seen it where a player just turns the wrong way. A calf pull, a knee can go in an instant.”

The streak-breaker, whether MLB decides to recognize Bavetta’s total or not, puts him full circle. He made his debut in 1975, eight days before his 36th birthday, in a Celtics-at-Knicks contest. “I said, ‘What better way than to have the streak ‘broken’ than back at Madison Square Garden?’ But the league arranged my schedule accordingly,” Bavetta said. “We don’t get a say.”

So might he job around the perimeter of the court after the final horn, a la Ripken, slapping hands with fans in attendance? “I don’t think so,” he said. “Probably couldn’t afford the fine.”

Missing calls is a fact of any game official’s life, from umpires to NBA refs. Missing games, that’s been the infallible thing for Bavetta.


Gallery: Dick Bavetta’s career

Spurs Stand Tall Despite Sitting Duncan

.

OAKLAND, Calif. — Gregg Popovich manages Tim Duncan’s minutes all season long as if he were a pastry chef baking a souffle. Too long in the oven and everything can fall flat.

“It’s what we do,” says the Spurs coach.

Except how many coaches would do it with a two-point lead in the final 4 1/2 minutes of a close-out game in a playoff series that always seemed on edge?

But there were a couple of weak jumpers that seemed to come off tired legs and then an absent-minded crosscourt pass that nearly took the bald head right off the shoulders of referee Joey Crawford and wound up in the stands.

So that’s how Duncan came to watch the final scenes of his 200th career playoff game, a 94-82 win over the Warriors that put his Spurs back into the Western Conference finals.

“I don’t think he was giving me a break,” Duncan said, ruefully smiling and shaking his head. “I think I had played three or four pretty bad minutes in a row and he decided to go with something else.

“It is what it is and we were able to finish the series. I wish I could be out there, but honestly the way we playing and the way we finished it was the right move. So I’m happy for it.”

It is what it is and the Spurs are what they are, which is a more experienced, more mature, just plain better team than the one that bolted to a 2-0 lead over Oklahoma City in the conference finals in 2012 and then was steamrolled out in four straight defeats.

They’re a team that could have Tony Parker make only 1 of his first 13 shots and survive. They’re a team that could have Manu Ginobili go 1-for-6 and still advance. They’re a team that could have their 14-time NBA All-Star Duncan get the hook in the clutch and still go into the next round against the rugged Grizzlies as the team to beat.

“Oh, it won’t be pretty,” Duncan said looking ahead to the mud-wrestling match with Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. But then again, neither was this and yet the Spurs somehow made it look like a work of art.

Maybe nobody but Popovich could have gotten away with sitting Duncan down at that critical point in the game. After Stephen Curry hit a jumper from the key to cut the Spurs’ lead to 77-75, Duncan made his wildly inaccurate pass and the Oracle crowd rose for one last deafening roar.

“I just made that choice,” Popovich said.

Probably no superstar of his stature would have accepted the seat on the bench with Duncan’s aplomb.

“Of course, as a player you want to be in there competing,” he said. “But you had other guys in there getting the job done, so it was obviously the thing to do.”

It is that union of coach and star, that steadiness that has enabled the Spurs to advance to the Conference finals for the eighth time — with four championships already — in Duncan’s career.

There was a time — just two years ago — when the Spurs were the No. 1 seed in the West and were unceremoniously run out of the playoffs by the No. 8-seeded Grizzlies. It was a series when Duncan limped in on a bad ankle, Ginobili played with what was later found to be a fractured elbow and the Spurs’ bench faltered. So Popovich chose to roll the dice with last-gasp veteran Antonio McDyess over a rookie named Tiago Splitter.

Two seasons later, Splitter was hitting 6 of 8 shots, scoring 14 points, grabbing four rebounds and holding his own on the inside of the defense while Duncan became a spectator.

Duncan and Ginobili are older now, but the Spurs are deeper with Splitter, Danny Green and the quietly deadly force of Kawhi Leonard stepping up. They’re a team that can see the in-full-bloom Parker miss 12 of his first 13 shots in the game and be confident that he’ll make the right choices and hit the big shots when needed.

Ginobili won the incredible double-overtime Game 1 of the series by hitting the game-winning shot on a night when he was 5-for-20 from the field. And even though he could hardly find the basket in Game 6, twice in the last three minutes, he drove toward the hoop, drew the defense to him and delivered perfect passes into the left corner that produced treys from Parker and Leonard.

The Spurs’ core that looked old and tired the last time they faced Memphis in the playoffs is older now, yet playing spryer because Popovich is so diligent about managing those minutes. However, there is also fresh blood running through those veins in Leonard, Green and Splitter that makes much of what’s happening this season possible.

Even stunning things like Duncan watching from the bench in the close-out stretch of a close-out game and nobody thinking twice.

It’s what they do.

Ainge-Riley Feud Joins A Long NBA List

a

a
HANG TIME, Texas -
- The Hatfields and McCoys, Montagues and Capulets, Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj have never had anything on the NBA. When it comes to feuds, there have been some dandies.

So when Pat Riley and Danny Ainge went lip-to-lip this week it was just the latest chapter. Here are just a few other memorable ones:

Danny Ainge vs. Tree Rollins

In a 1987 first round playoff game against Atlanta, the Celtics’ guard Ainge tried to tackle 7-footer Rollins of the Hawks. They wound up in a heap of bodies on the court and Ainge came out of the pile screaming with a gash that required two stitches from where Rollins had bit him.

The next day’s edition of the Boston Herald bore the headline: Tree Bites Man.

Joey Crawford vs. Tim Duncan

It was a 1997 playoff series when the bombastic veteran referee did not like that Duncan was laughing on the bench and challenged him to a fight. The league fined and suspended Crawford and banned him for working Spurs games for several years.

The pair has since patched things up. However Duncan and teammate Manu Ginobili were photographed in October at a Halloween Party where they aimed fake guns and guest dressed up as Crawford.

Clyde Drexler vs. Jake O’Donnell

The final game of the veteran referee’s career came on May 9, 1995 when he ejected the Rockets’ Drexler in the second quarter of a playoff game in Phoenix. The league suspended O’Donnell and he never worked another game. Drexler claimed that there was no previous history between the two.

But league sources confirmed that Drexler had been ordered to send a written apology to the ref following a 1989 incident when he played in Portland and had threatened O’Donnell prior to a game.

Red Auerbach vs. Phil Jackson

It practically became a running joke. Each spring when the Zen Master would close in on adding another championship ring to his collection, some mischievous reporter would dial up the former Celtics legend and let him vent.

“Three titles in a row don’t constitute a dynasty,” Auerbach would rant. “He had Michael Jordan and Shaq.”

Of course, Red had Bill Russell.

Jackson usually responded with a bemused smile and a zinger and ultimately that cap with the Roman number X for his 10 championships when he passed Auerbach’s total of nine.

LeBron James vs. Dan Gilbert

All it took was James announcing on national TV that he was taking his talents to South Beach for the Cleveland owner to vent all of his frustrations in a letter that accused LeBron of selfishness and “cowardly betrayal” and promised that his Cavs would win a championship before The King.

Well, so Gilbert is a better venter than prognosticator. He has since admitted that his childish actions were wrong and, besides, all we be forgiven if LeBron opts out of his Heat contract and returns to the Cavs in 2014.

Shaquille O’Neal vs. Kobe Bryant

So how many more championships could the Lakers have won in the early years of the 21st century if the two giants of the court had been able to make their huge egos squeeze comfortably into the same locker room?

Kobe thought Shaq was lazy. Shaq thought Kobe was a ballhog.
So they both were right. Then things got personal and nasty and out the window went any chance of a “four-peat.”