Following games, now-retired NBA referee Danny Crawford and his fellow officials would review video tape. 

But the routine, at least when it came to Boston Celtics games, had to be tweaked. 

And the reason can be summed up in two words. 



Heinsohn has a well-deserved reputation for being hard on referees, something Crawford admits he knows about all too well. 

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“Whenever we worked a Boston game, we’d always turn the volume down,” Crawford said on the Celtics Talk Podcast. “It was no way we would listen to the volume of those games because that guy was the worst to referees.”

While Crawford certainly had his share of memorable games involving the Green Team, the one game he officiated that has received renewed buzz of late is Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals between Chicago and Utah. 

Not only did the Bulls close out that series, but it would also serve as Michael Jordan’s last game with the Bulls, as chronicled in ESPN's 10-part documentary "The Last Dance."

But it was the game’s ending, a Jordan game-winner with what some perceived as an MJ push-off against Bryon Russell that Crawford has been asked about for years. 

Before Jordan’s game-winner, Crawford recalled how physical and intense that game had been from the outset. 

“It was a very, very tough game to referee,” Crawford. 

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After the game, Crawford said he and the rest of the officiating crew, Dick Bavetta and Hue Hollins, went back to the locker room to look at the game video from the beginning until the very final play. 

“We saw it (MJ’s game-winner) once and we left,” Crawford said. “So, it was you (media) guys that were going off and going crazy and all that stuff. We saw it once and we walked out.”

While there was clear contact made by Jordan against Russell, it was unclear if the contact created the space or whether Russell’s momentum, already noticeably shifting away from Jordan, was the real reason why he stumbled away as Jordan raised up for the game-winning, series-clinching shot. 

“There’s a thing we talk about in refereeing; call what you see, see what you call,” Crawford said. “And that play is a difficult play. And it’s a debatable play. So, you can put that play in front of 100 people and you’ll go 50-50 on that play.

That being said as a referee, if you’re refereeing that play if you clearly see a push, you call a push. But that play even now looking at it on video, you see various angles you don’t know if it’s a push or not a push.

Crawford added, “And you can’t base it on what happened to Russell. Because if you blew the whistle based on what happened to Russell, easy call to make. You have to call what you see, what Jordan does and you don’t see it. And when you see it, I don’t know if that was a clear-cut push. So, you're damned if you do, damned if you don’t. And that play has left all these sports fans to debate and it’s a beautiful thing.”