NBA referee Greg Willard dies of cancer at age 54

Associated Press  |  Last updated April 02, 2013
Greg Willard, a longtime NBA referee who worked more than 1,600 games before he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, has died. He was 54. Willard died Monday night, according to the league. He was diagnosed with the illness during last season's playoffs and worked only one more game, a preseason matchup in October not far from his Huntington Beach, Calif., home. Some NBA players, including three-time MVP LeBron James of the Miami Heat, New Orleans guard Roger Mason and Sacramento center Cole Aldrich, tweeted condolences to Willard's family, as did Golden State coach Mark Jackson. More tributes were expected in the coming days, including moments of silence in Willard's memory at all NBA games Tuesday and Wednesday. ''The entire NBA family joins me in mourning the loss of one of our own, Greg Willard,'' NBA Commissioner David Stern said. ''Greg touched all those with whom he came in contact thanks to his extraordinary spirit, dedication and hard work. As a Finals referee, he reached the highest level of his profession while at the same time demonstrating a strong commitment to his family and his community.'' Willard officiated 1,494 regular-season games, 136 playoff games, two NBA Finals games, the 2006 All-Star game and Europe Live games in 2006 in Italy, France and Germany in a career that spanned nearly a quarter-century. All league officials will wear wristbands or patches with Willard's jersey No. 57 for the rest of the season. ''Our thoughts are with his wife Laurie, their children and the rest of the Willard family during this difficult time,'' Stern said. Willard spent four years as an official at the college level and four years working games in the Continental Basketball Association before joining the NBA ranks. He was also active in several youth programs, particularly ones supporting athletics and the performing arts. ''Greg epitomized what it meant to be an NBA referee through dedication to his craft, hard work, and integrity both on and off the court,'' said Lee Seham, general counsel for the National Basketball Referees Association. ''He was not only a great NBA referee, but more importantly a wonderful person.''
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Sanu: Halftime show played role in Super Bowl collapse

James Dolan is among potential group of investors of new arena for New York Islanders

Report: Rams, Clippers discussing NBA venue in Inglewood

Terrence Jones reportedly interested in joining Celtics

LeBron reverses course, says he ‘always felt good’ about Cavs

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Ole Miss tried to implicate Mississippi State in football scandal

Jamaal Charles could be on the roster bubble

Jimmy Butler on state of Bulls: ‘I just want to win at all costs’

Report: Giants will be ‘aggressive’ in trying to sign Jason Pierre-Paul

Report: Porzingis avoided ligament damage in ankle

Brooks Koepka meltdown includes whiff, stomping head off driver

Top 10 shortstops in baseball for 2017

The most dangerous NBA teams flying under the radar

Eat, Drink, Watch: Your award-worthy weekend planning guide

Grading the NBA trade deadline on the Vince Carter scale

Box Score 2/24: A night of NBA disrespect

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

The 'Pete Rose instead of Kareem? Surely, you can't be serious' quiz

Streaming sports docuseries you don't want to miss

Teams that can prevent a Cavs-Warriors NBA Finals three-peat

The NFL off-season is a passer’s fancy

The Aesthetic: Pushing the boundaries of the three-pointer

NBA coaches who should be fired soon

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Top 10 shortstops in baseball for 2017

The most dangerous NBA teams flying under the radar

Eat, Drink, Watch: Your award-worthy weekend planning guide

Grading the NBA trade deadline on the Vince Carter scale

Streaming sports docuseries you don't want to miss

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

The 'Pete Rose instead of Kareem? Surely, you can't be serious' quiz

Teams that can prevent a Cavs-Warriors NBA Finals three-peat

The NFL off-season is a passer’s fancy

QUIZ: Name every MLB pitcher who has recorded 10 or more shutouts in a single season

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker