Stern says he's confident Crawford is ready to referee games

Updated: September 17, 2007, 4:19 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

NEW YORK -- NBA referee Joey Crawford, suspended following an incident with Tim Duncan last April, has been reinstated, the league announced Monday.

Joe Crawford
Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty ImagesJoey Crawford is back in the NBA, five months after being suspended.

Crawford was reinstated by commissioner David Stern, who had initially suspended the veteran NBA official on April 17. That was two days after Crawford had ejected Duncan from a game between San Antonio and Dallas.

"Based on my meeting with Joey Crawford, his commitment to an ongoing counseling program, and a favorable professional evaluation that was performed at my direction, I am satisfied that Joey understands the standards of game management and professionalism the NBA expects from him and that he will be able to conduct himself in accordance with those standards," said Stern in a statement.

Crawford ejected Duncan from San Antonio's loss in April after calling a second technical foul on the Spurs star while he was laughing on the bench.

"He looked at me and said, 'Do you want to fight? Do you want to fight?"' Duncan said. "If he wants to fight, we can fight. I don't have any problem with him, but we can do it if he wants to. I have no reason why in the middle of a game he would yell at me, 'Do you want to fight?"'

Crawford was cited for "improper conduct" and "inappropriate comments made to Duncan during the game." Stern said Crawford's actions "failed to meet the standards of professionalism and game management we expect of NBA referees."

The NBA also fined Duncan $25,000 for verbal abuse of an official. Crawford said Duncan referred to him with an expletive.

Crawford has worked more postseason games than any active referee.

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