here. The abstract is below. Zach Lowe of Grantland highlighted the paper in this piece.
Given confidentiality issues and the proprietary nature of the underlying data, outsiders rarely have the opportunity to test the impetus, impact, and efficacy of employee discipline in the workplace. However, the transparency of NBA basketball officiating allows for such an inquiry, as long-time referee Joey Crawford was involved in a much-publicized 2007 on-court incident with Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs that resulted in a lengthy suspension. Shortly after the suspension, Duncan spoke of Crawford’s “personal vendetta” against him and expressed hope that he and his team would “get a fair shake” and avoid any “backlash” from other referees. This paper analyzes the interaction between Crawford (and other referees) and the Spurs team and reveals that Duncan’s concerns were illusory in 2007 and remain spurious (pun intended) today. In the course of analyzing every Spurs game (N = 1038) over the course of eleven seasons, neither Crawford nor any of his fellow referees exhibited any systematic bias against Duncan or his team.