NBA referee Danny Crawford set to retire after 31 years, 2,000 games officiated

Danny Crawford  officiated in over 2,000 games during his career. Now he’s set to hang it up.

Many NBA referees become notable faces over time, and one such figure is set to call it a career. Danny Crawford will retire after 31 years of officiating in the NBA. Prior to joining the league in 1985, Crawford worked as an official for four seasons in the CBA, and eight seasons at the collegiate level.

Along with officiating over 2,000 games, Crawford refereed at least one game in the NBA Finals for the past 23 seasons. He ended his career this past June during the Golden State Warriors series-clinching win in Game 5. Overall, he officiated in over 300 playoff games, and more than 30 NBA Finals games.

His retirement was announced via the NBA Referees Twitter account Tuesday afternoon:

The numbers obviously speak for themselves. Crawford was one of the most recognizable referees in the NBA, watching the league change and evolve for the three decades. He saw a lot. During his career:

  • The NBA initiated the draft lottery in 1985 (Patrick Ewing went No. 1 overall).
  • The league went through four lockouts.
  • The league expanded from 23 to 30 teams.
  • The league’s popularity grew internationally.

Crawford officiated the Chicago Bulls six championships, and the Los Angeles Lakers five. He refereed in games featuring Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, and Stephen Curry. The list could go on forever.

The interesting part is, officiating wasn’t a live-long calling. Attending Northeastern Illinois University, Crawford majored in physical education, intent on becoming a gym teacher. Officiating on the side, he impressed former Loyola men’s basketball coach George Ireland at a basketball tournament, which prompted a switch in careers. After working at the junior college, and Division 1 level, Crawford made it to the professional stage.

Now, over 30 years later, his career is complete.

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