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 CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) -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.

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