Dallas Mavericks Escape Danny Crawford Curse to Take 2-0 Series Lead

April 20, 2011 – 8:45 am by Eric Schmoldt

The numbers are pretty damning. As former NBA official Tim Donaghy says, they’re too drastic to just be merely a coincidence. Heading into Tuesday night’s Game 2 with the Portland Trail Blazers, the Dallas Maverick were just 2-16 in playoff games where Danny Crawford was a referee.

Donaghy, the referee who caught up in a the gambling scandal and served time in federal prison for pleading guilty to two federal charges, explains in his recent book how Crawford enjoyed revelling in the fact that the Mavs lost so many games that he officiated. That tale helped make Crawford’s appearance as a ref in Game 2 Tuesday night enter into the spotlight.

Any chance all that attention had something to do with the fact that the Mavs actually won their third playoff game in which Crawford was an official? Well, clutch performances of Jason Kidd and Dirk Nowitzki had something to do with that, but the Blazers had just one more free-throw attempt and two more personal fouls called. Just sayin’.

Tim Donaghy joined ESPN Radio Dallas with Galloway and Company to discuss his reaction to Crawford being assigned the game, why it’s not a coincidence the Mavs are just 3-16 in playoff games reffed by Danny Crawford, the story he tells in his book about the situation, why it could be different now that he’s called attention to it and the general performance this season by NBA officials.

His reaction when he saw Danny Crawford was officiating Game 2 in Dallas:

“You think that the league would put him on a game maybe in another series, but to put him in this situation, teams like that, for some reason they still enjoy tormenting Mark Cuban a little bit.”

Could it be that it was just coincidence that the Mavs were 2-16 in games reffed by Crawford before Tuesday night?:

“No, absolutely not. I think that would be absolutely impossible to put that as a mere coincidence. It’s no secret that when Ed Rush was supervisor of officials, he had a hatred for Mark Cuban and Danny Crawford was one of Rush’s right-hand guys. So he carried out what he thought would be in the best interest of him being in the good graces with the supervisor of officials. Some guys enjoy sticking it to Mark; it’s no secret.”

On the stories he tells about Crawford and the Mavs in his book:

“It’s in the book, he would laugh about his record. I think at the time I was around it was nine or 10 wins in a row that the opposing teams had. It’s funny stuff because now I’m actually working for a sports handicapper as a blogger and radio co-host and we talk about that all the time … how these personal relationships come into affect and still seem to be out there.”

If things will be different now that this story has come out and Crawford is in the spotlight:

“I can tell you this, right now David Stern’s not too happy that the focus is on Danny Crawford being a referee for this game. … It’s bad for the league if Danny Crawford makes a couple of calls in favor of Portland that are wrong. I think Danny Crawford is a quality referee and I think he’s going to do his best to be as [unbiased] as possible knowing that the spotlight is on him. That’s why they put a lot of these stop-gaps in there where things are reviewable. Those quick out-of-bounds plays that he could just easily give to Portland, they’re reviewable now. It’s not as easy as it was in the past for him to just give those marginal plays to the other team.”

Reflecting on the state of officiation overall in the NBA:

“I’ve watched a couple games the last couple nights and there’s pivotal calls that are taking place at pivotal times that are just flat-out wrong that are just standing out. They’re bad enough they’re taking place during the game, but in the last two or three minutes of the fourth quarter, it just buries teams. … It takes the credibility further away from the league.”

Listen to Tim Donaghy on ESPN Radio Dallas here

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