Thursday, October 18, 2012

Greg Willard Officiates Pre-Season Game, to Take Leave

NBA referee Greg Willard, diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in June, worked Tuesday's Jazz-Lakers exhibition contest in Anaheim in what appears to have been Willard's last game of 2012.

Greg Willard (left) officiates a play between Bryant & Utah's
Kevin Murphy, 10/16/12 (AP/Jae Hong).
After the contest, Lakers guard Kobe Bryant visited the referees' locker room, later saying of Willard:
"He's an extremely good ref...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 to him. I wanted it to be like how it's always been. That's the best way."
Willard is presently listed on the 2012-13 NBA officiating roster and his upcoming leave of absence is similar in practice to cancer-related absences seen with MLB umpires Jeff Nelson and John Hirschbeck.

Willard, age 53, is a 25-year NBA veteran official and southern California native. He is scheduled to receive the Spirit of Hope Award during the 15th annual Evening With the Stars gala presented by the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network fundraiser in Beverly Hills, CA, 10/20/12.

News: NBA official, Long Beach State alum Greg Willard taking leave to battle pancreatic cancer


Anonymous said...

Thoughts and prayers to Greg Willard and family. It's great he felt well enough to work another NBA game this fall before heading off to treatment and (presumably) chemotherapy.

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