<
>

Salvatore, Kennedy on Game 1 crew

DALLAS -- Bennett Salvatore, who forever cemented his status as a villain in Dallas during Game 5 of the 2006 Finals, will work the Mavs-Spurs opener.

And he isn't the only controversial ref on the Game 1 crew, according to the NBA, which releases referee assignments the morning of games.

Remember Bill Kennedy? He's the only ref ever to hit Dirk Nowitzki with two technicals and toss him, which happened during a March game against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Dirk, who had complained that he was pushed in the back without a foul being called, said a couple of days later that he was "shocked" to be sent to the showers so quickly. Some Mavs folks hinted that it's no coincidence that Kennedy was miked up for the broadcast that night.

"He just wasn’t having nothing," Dirk said a couple of days later. "He was actually pretty fired up from the beginning on. The first play of the game he already started yelling at the players. For some reason, he was pretty hardcore the other day. I shouldn’t have reacted. I just should have known."

Beware: Salvatore and Kennedy, joined by Michael Smith, will be working at the AAC tonight.

I can assure you that Mark Cuban will at least be pleased not to see Danny Crawford, considering the Mavs win about one of 20 playoff games he works.