A referee who is at the center of the biggest basketball controversy since the infamous 2006 matchup between Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal, Tony Brown, is fighting for his life after being shot in the head with a bullet. This time, the story was all about a gunfight between two rival gangs, but the same can be said for the other 62 times in the NBA season that a player was involved in a fight or altercation.
Tony Brown was a controversial figure during the NBA Finals this year. Brown made a series of decisions during the series that irked many fans. One of them was the call that led to a controversial ending to Game 6.
Seattle police chief Kathleen O’Toole made a bold and controversial decision when she decided Officer Tony Brown, who had been accused of brutality against a couple while on duty, would not be charged in a criminal investigation. The officer was fired by the department, but that was short-lived, as he was quickly reinstated by the King County Prosecutor’s Office and given the “heavenly honor” of officiating the NBA Finals. The move spurred outrage among many sports fans, who said it was inappropriate in a city that suffered a high rate of police brutality, racism, and mental illness.
One of the most common gripes throughout the latter months of the regular season and the NBA playoffs was the amount of games missed due to injury. Players grumbled, with LeBron James expressing his displeasure with a short summer followed by 72 games.
Sprained knees and rolled ankles, in the big scheme of things, are nothing compared to what another player on the floor is going through.
Tony Brown, a veteran referee, has stage 4 pancreatic cancer that has spread to his liver.
Tony Brown hasn’t served as a referee since the spring.
During a timeout in the first half of the game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena on April 8, 2021 in Miami, LeBron James speaks with referee Tony Brown. | Getty Images/Eric Espada
In mid-May, the NBA announced that Tony Brown will end his 19th season as a referee to focus on treatment after discovering he had pancreatic cancer.
Brown has appeared in 1,109 regular-season games and 35 postseason games. He began getting one or two playoff assignments each year in 2011 and worked his way up to a career-high 10 games last year in the Disney World bubble, including a game in the finals.
Tony is a valued member of the NBA family, particularly our officiating family, according to league vice president Monty McCutchen. Tony impacts so many lives off the court in addition to exemplifying what it takes to be a world-class referee on the court.”
A series of events led to a startling diagnosis.
Brown has spoken up about his condition, detailing how something apparently harmless evolved into a life-altering diagnosis in a matter of days on The Undefeated website.
After working an April 8 game in Miami, he had stomach pains that physicians ascribed to probable food poisoning. He scheduled an appointment with an Atlanta doctor when the pain didn’t go away after a week. Although one piece of data from a blood test was incorrect, the doctor didn’t seem concerned until sending Brown for an ultrasound and an MRI.
Even though the scans revealed the first indication of danger, it didn’t cause panic: A suspicious lesion on his liver would need a biopsy and a consultation with a cancer expert to discuss the findings.
Brown writes, “‘No problem,’ was my answer.” “‘I’m in excellent condition; whatever shows up had to be benign,” she says.
On April 30, Brown had a CT scan and then traveled to the Atlanta Hawks’ training facility for a COVID-19 test. He was supposed to travel to Chicago later that day to see the Bulls take on the Milwaukee Bucks. Brown got an urgent phone call as he drove into the Hawks’ facility, ordering him to get to Emory University Hospital because a CT scan revealed blood clots in his lungs.
“‘There’s a possibility the blood clots would have killed you if you had gotten on that aircraft to Chicago,’ a doctor informed me.
Doctors put him on blood thinners and confined him to an oncology floor room.
“When a call doctor came by to check on me, we inquired what was going on since my wife and I were puzzled about being moved to a cancer floor,” Brown said. “The doctor delivered a sledgehammer, shocked by our ignorance of my condition.
“‘You have pancreatic cancer at stage four. It’s now infected your liver.’
The most hardest obstacle to overcome is informing his children.
Brown stayed in the hospital overnight, long enough for blood thinners to be started and an electrocardiogram to be performed.
He said, “On Friday morning, I went into the hospital looking forward to the conclusion of a comprehensive medical checkup, anxious to go back to work.” “On Saturday morning, I walked out of the hospital with a diagnosis of advanced pancreatic cancer and no idea how much longer I had to live.
The most hardest task, according to Brown, was informing his three children, aged 17 to 24, about his decision. Brown and his wife invited their children (one of whom had to fly in from Los Angeles) to a Sunday get-together that included a few close friends who were already aware of Brown’s illness.
Brown, his wife, and the kids excused themselves and went to the upstairs bedroom late at night.
“As I walked into the room my son, Basile, actually quipped, ‘You’re not going to tell us you have cancer or something crazy, are you?’” Brown wrote. “Knowing that he was joking stung harder than a thousand bees, as I shared the devastating news.
“As soon as I said, ‘I have cancer,’ the kids all started crying, and I was right behind them, seeing how much agony they were in…. It broke my heart to watch them suffer so much in a situation where I couldn’t help them.”
Brown delivered the “champion’s speech,” telling the children that he was only concerned with surviving. The courage they shown encouraged him.
He had reached the pinnacle of his career six months before, working Game 4 between the Lakers and the Heat, two heavyweights who had outlasted 28 others.
Brown stated, “When this season started, my aim was to relive that thrilling moment.”
Instead, he’s up against a formidable foe of his own making.
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Referee Tony Brown has gone from the NBA finals to fighting for his life. The retired referee has been diagnosed with a “soft tissue sarcoma” on his right arm and will need a full recovery with surgery and radiation.. Read more about tony brown referee age and let us know what you think.
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