The NBA Family Supports Greg Willard

Posted by on Oct 23, 2012 in Uncategorized | One Comment
Greg Willard and Kurt Rambis at the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network Gala

Greg Willard and Kurt Rambis at the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network Gala

This weekend I had the honor of introducing Greg Willard as he was selected to receive the ‘Spirit of Hope’ award from the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network for his efforts to raise funds and bring awareness to pancreatic cancer research. The entire NBA family reached out to me with quotes that I want to share.

Kobe Bryant
“He’s an extremely good ref. He doesn’t hold grudges. He just makes the call in front of him.”

On the game Greg refereed in Anaheim:
“Honestly, tonight I wanted him to T me up for old time’s sake. I didn’t want him to have any kind of special night. I wanted it to be just like it’s always been. I wanted to drop a couple F-bombs on him. I wanted it to be exactly like how it’s always been because a referee of Greg’s caliber would want nothing less.”

When I talked to Lebron James and Dwayne Wade they agreed;
“When we walked on the floor and saw Greg we knew we were going to get a game officiated at the highest level. He’s a pro’s pro”

Dwight Howard
“I don’t have anything bad to say about him, and that says a lot when a player is asked about a ref. But in all seriousness, I’ll be praying for him and his family. I’m sad to see one of the refs having to fight a disease like this and I’m pulling for him. We’ll certainly be praying for him.”

Pau Gasol
“Greg has always been one of the best referees. I have great respect for him.”

Phil Jackson
“When I was a coach in the Continental Basketball Association the NBA used the league to train their new referees. Greg Willard was one of those guys that started out working in the CBA, where I also learned my craft as a coach. I’ve known him for more than 25 years. From the beginning watching him work the games Greg carried himself with the poise and confidence that made players and coaches comfortable that the game was in good hands. Greg was always one of those guys you could sidle up to during a free throw and chat up, not only about the game, but the pleasantries of the NBA life especially the road. Greg has been a asset to the game and we all wish him well during his battle with cancer.”

Doc Rivers, coach of the Boston Celtics
“To describe Greg one must use the words professional, high integrity and class act. And I’m not just saying that because we beat Miami in game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals last season in overtime with Greg reffing.”

Greg Popovich, coach of the Spurs
“Greg, hearing that you are back on the court is an inspiration to us all. You’re a good man and a hell of an official. I know this first-hand as you’ve kicked me out of both NBA and Pomona College SCIAC games. Fight the good fight. Great to have you back.”

Pat Riley, president of the Miami Heat
“I Coached for over 25 years and during that same time span there was never a better official, ever. Greg exemplified all the qualities you would want in someone who was officiating games where the competition was fast, furious and physical. We always wanted to win and so did the other team, badly. We just wanted it fairly officiated. I would always coach my players to just do your job and let the officials do theirs. That is what this game is all about. When I would see that Greg would be officiating one of my games I ALWAYS KNEW that we had a great official that night and HE WOULD DO HIS JOB. Some coaches and players would worry about who was calling the game. The game will take care of itself, just play it. Don’t worry about who is calling it. When I would see Greg I knew that both sides were going to get a professional whistle making the calls. Greg was always knowledgeable, fair, decisive and in great shape. I was one of those noisy coaches on the sideline but very rarly did I direct that noise at Greg because I respected and trusted he would bring his best effort always. Greg came and did his job every night better than all of them. I want to congratulate him on this honor. He is most deserving of it. And, in finishing I pray that God will continue to hold Greg and his family securely and safely in the palm of his hand.”

David Stern, NBA commissioner
“As a 24-year veteran who has officiated more than 1,500 NBA games, including three games in the NBA Finals, Greg Willard is one of our finest referees. More than that, he is a fine human being who is dedicated to his family and his community, and has represented our league with distinction on and off the court for more than two decades. All of us at the NBA extend our full support to Greg and his family in their courageous fight against this terrible disease.”

Many came out in support of Greg including fellow NBA referees Kane Fitzgerald, Bill Spooner, Ed Rush, Ronnie Garretson, Joe DeRosa, Rodney Mott, Derrick Richardson, Bill Kennedy, Tre Maddox, Pat Fraher, and Cassandra Thompson.

If you would like to donate you can visit the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network here: http://www.pancan.org/DonateEWTS

1 Comment

  1. Frank Gerdine
    October 24, 2012

    Greg! You inspired me to become as good as I could possibly be. I first met you in San Diego at Dave Libbey’s camp. You talked about your family and “Passing it on”. You didn’t touch on officiating. I’ve tried to reach heights you inspired. Thank you for sitting with me in Las Vegas @ the CCAA camp. I want you to get well. My wife & I are praying for you. Greg I appreciate you. Now go take care of you and I will keep “PASSING IT ON”!

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