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Famed NBA ref Joey Crawford to retire after 39 seasons

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Famed NBA ref Joey Crawford to retire after 39 seasons

Joey Crawford always has a way of inserting himself into the story of the NBA -- not exactly the goal for a referee, but he's no ordinary zebra. This time, Crawford is making headlines for announcing plans to retire after the 2015-16 season.

He told his local paper, the Delaware County Daily Times, that he intends to hang up his whistle after 39 years in the NBA.

“I’m done,” he said. 

The 64-year-old veteran has been sidelined by knee surgery, but hopes to be back out on the court by March 1. If all goes according to plan, he'll call the playoffs with the aim of officiating yet another NBA Finals. Go out on top, so to speak.

“It’s not that you lose your passion. I have that. That’s insanity," Crawford said. "But it just comes to the point where you say, ‘I don’t want to make a fool out of myself.’ And it’s been so good that I want to go out on a high note."

His words strike the same tone as veteran players talking about retirement. 

For some perspective, Crawford has worked in the NBA almost twice as long as another legend calling it quits this year -- Kobe Bryant. And he has equally impressive career stats. 

Crawford has refereed 50 NBA Finals games (appearing in 29 of the last 30 Finals series) and 313 playoffs games, more than any other active official. He received the National Association of Sports Officials' Golden Whistle Award -- the highest honor in the profession -- in 2014. 

But his career hasn't been unblemished. In April of 2007, he was suspended for the remainder of the season after an in-game altercation with Tim Duncan. Crawford ejected the Spurs forward for allegedly cursing at hime, while Duncan claimed Crawford threatened to fight him. 

The suspension cost Crawford a chance to officiate the Finals that year, halting his streak of consecutive Finals appearances at 21. He admits he regrets the incident to this day, but considers it a learning experience. 

Most NBA fans will remember him as strict with his whistle and flamboyant in his delivery of fouls and ejections. It's fair to call him a "hands-on" official whose antics occasionally interrupt games.

For example, he has yelled at scorers tables, almost ejected a mop boy, accidentally pushed players out of bounds and other nonsense. He also famously blocked Kevin Durant's free throw during the 2014 playoffs and told Timofey Mozgov to "shut up" during the 2015 NBA Finals. 

You can watch video of these incidents and others in this post compiled by Sports Illustrated

And while Crawford's wilder moments can irritate fans at the time, they're what many people will miss most about him. 

MORE WIZARDS: Dudley elevates John Wall to Steve Nash territory

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2018 NBA Playoffs Wizards-Raptors Game 4: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

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2018 NBA Playoffs Wizards-Raptors Game 4: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter and the Washington Wizards battle Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Serge Ibaka and the Toronto Raptors on Sunday night in Game 4 of the 2018 NBA Playoffs.

Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch:

GAME 4: TORONTO RAPTORS AT WASHINGTON WIZARDS

Series: Raptors lead 2-1
Where: Capital One Arena
Tip-off: 6 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington (pregame coverage begins at 5 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Radio: 1500 AM

Time to get even

After a momentous Game 3 win, the Wizards have breathed some life back into their season. On Sunday, they can make this a brand new series.

With a win in Game 4 for the Wizards, they would tie the series and send it back to Toronto ensuring another home game in Washington. A loss would put them down 3-1, a deficit that has historically been hard to overcome.

Only 11 teams have accomplished the feat, most notably the Cavaliers in the 2016 NBA Finals. The Warriors did the same that year in the conference finals. It has only been done three times since 2006. 

How will Raptors respond?

Game 3 took on a much different tone and style than the previous two and it played into the Wizards' hands. It was much more physical and Washington did a good job of instigating contact and using it to their advanage. After the game, several players highlighted Markieff Morris shoving OG Anunoby and Serge Ibaka as a turning point.

Just because it worked in Game 3 doesn't mean it will carry over successfully in Game 4. Not only could the Raptors respond with their own dose of brutality, but the referees may try to nip anything of the sort in the bud early on.

It would not be surprising if Game 4 was officiated very tightly and if a message was sent in the first quarter to the players. After seeing how well it worked in Game 3, the Wizards will likely try to test the limits.

Playoff Beal

The Raptors will also try to adjust their defense following Bradley Beal's 28-point outburst in Game 3. He wasn't much of a factor in the first two games of the series, but broke out in Game 3 to lead the Wizards to a win.

The Wizards did a good job of getting Beal involved early. He was found for open looks from three in the first half and had two three-pointers in each of the first two quarters. Beal also took it upon himself to attack the rim and force the issue.

The Raptors held Beal back in the first two games by being rough with him and in Game 2 they got him in foul trouble. Surely he will be a big emphasis of their gameplan on Sunday.

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For more on the Wizards-Raptors series, check out or latest Wizards Tipoff podcast:

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The Wizards dominated Game 3 because everybody ate ... literally

The Wizards dominated Game 3 because everybody ate ... literally

The Wizards returned to Washington, D.C. on Friday down 0-2 to the Raptors in their best-of-seven 2018 NBA Playoffs first-round series

The team lost a close one in Game 1 and was run out of the building in Game 2. Game 3 was must-win, and the Wizards knew what needed to happen in order for them to secure the victory.

"Everybody eats." 

That's the phrase that has defined the Wizards throughout much of the season They are at their best when John Wall is making plays and feeding his teammates.

On Friday night, the Wizards beat the Raptors 122-103 to force at least a Game 5. Wall finished with 28 points and 14 assists.

Bradley Beal finally broke out of his slump for 28 points and  Marcin Gortat, Mike Scott and Kelly Oubre all chipped in with at least 10 points.

But the stat sheet wasn't the only place where everybody eats.

Here's Marcin Gortat from Game 3. 

But if pantomiming isn't your thing, here is Bradley Beal actually eating popcorn during Game 3.

So what did we learn in Game 3? Well, for starters: "Everybody Eats" is not just a motto, it is a way of life.

MORE FROM WIZARDS-RAPTORS SERIES:

GORTAT DITCHES MOHAWK, TEAMMATES APPROVE

MUST-SEE MOMENTS FROM WILD GAME 3

BEAL GOT AN APOLOGY FROM SCOTT BROOKS