As soon as Wednesday’s news landed that Danny Crawford is retiring after 32 seasons as one of the NBA‘s most respected officials, fellow Chicago native Dwyane Wade tweeted congratulations and “nothing but respect.”
Naturally, Crawford, who turns 64 in November, didn’t see it.
“I’m not on social media, so I’m totally oblivious to it,” Crawford said in a phone conversation.
That’s classic Crawford, whose run of 23 straight NBA Finals culminated with the season-ending Game 5 assignment and who also added three All-Star Game assignments to more than 2,000 regular-season and more than 300 postseason games.
Crawford didn’t see the outpouring of support from Wade and countless others because the West Side product and former guard at Northeastern Illinois always focused on what he could control — the substance, not the sideshow.
It’s no wonder the respect level for him leaguewide trumped even his gaudy resume.
“When I walked on the court, all I demanded from the players was the same respect that I was going to give them,” Crawford said. “I did that my whole career. It was not about me. It was their game. I was out there to manage the game whenever I was needed.”
Before his NBA run began in 1985, Crawford officiated eight years of college games and four in the Continental Basketball Association. That’s a lot of calls. That’s a lot of commitment.
“I wanted to leave healthy. I wanted to leave on top of my…