Quick: Name an NBA referee.
Assuming you're not conspiratorially minded, we're guessing the first name that popped into your head is Joey Crawford. Crawford's earned quite the reputation during his 39 seasons as an NBA referee. Through grand gesticulations that draw your attention and ejecting players for laughing on the bench, we all know Joey Crawford.
But we won't for very much longer. According to the Delaware County Times, Crawford will retire at the end of the 2015-16 season:
Beyond the theatrics and the clashes of personality for which he's famous, Crawford has remained one of the NBA's very best referees. League officials, coaches and observers have noted that if Crawford had been on the job on the night of the Malice at the Palace, for example, the whole ordeal likely never would have happened. His approach to the game is designed to draw attention away from tense situations and make it known that the officials are in charge.
You didn't always like it, of course. Crawford had a knack for rubbing people the wrong way and going overboard at times -- something he's acknowledged late in his career and something he says he tried to correct. Take that incident in which he ejected Tim Duncan for laughing on the bench. Crawford told The New York Times in 2012 that altercation "changed his life."
Crawford is recovering from knee surgery and hopes to return to the court on March 1. Assuming he makes the grade for the postseason -- a safe bet, given his standing within the league and his excellence as an official -- the 2016 playoffs will be the end of the line for Crawford. And the NBA won't be the same after he's gone.