Union chief says suspended Crawford would be welcomed back

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- NBA union chief Billy Hunter said that
the players would support the reinstatement of referee Joey
Crawford, who was suspended after he was accused of trying to pick
a fight with Tim Duncan during a game.

"We hated to see Joey get canned," Hunter told a sports
lawyers' convention on Saturday. "I think in all probability Joey
will be back. We've expressed our willingness to work with him."

Crawford ejected Duncan from a game last month after calling a
second technical foul on the Spurs star while he was laughing on
the bench. Duncan said Crawford looked at him and said, "Do you
want to fight?"

NBA commissioner David Stern suspended Crawford, who has worked
more postseason games than any active ref at least through the NBA
finals. 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."

Crawford said Duncan swore at him.