May 20, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; NBA referee Joey Crawford gestures during game four of the Western Conference semifinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs between the San Antonio Spurs and the Los Angeles Clippers at the Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE
If you are a Spurs fan, you likely concur with each of the following: Tim Duncan is the greatest power forward of all time; Manu Ginobili can do absolutely no wrong; Gregg Popovich is the best current coach, if not of all-time; Derek Fisher’s shot didn’t count in ’04; and Joey Crawford dislikes — more aptly, hates — the Spurs.
It doesn’t seem like a mere coincidence that Crawford officiated the deciding Game 6 of last year’s Western Conference Finals in Oklahoma City. Or that he infamously ejected Duncan for, yes, laughing on the bench.
But what if I told you that Crawford’s seemingly bias officiating hasn’t actually affected the Spurs in a tangible way?
According to Florida State University sports economist Ryan Rodenburg, Crawford’s officiating has had essentially no bearing on the Spurs’ expected win-loss record. (Rodenburg’s methodology is explained in-depth by Zach Lowe of Grantland.)
Rodenburg’s study included 95 officials that were tasked with overseeing the Spurs. Crawford fell in the middle as his impact had little effect — if anything, his presence was slightly, very slightly, negative on the Spurs’ performance.
But there is nothing to conclude that Crawford hates the Spurs or, more specifically, Tim Duncan.
At least not yet.