OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — NBA referees will wear the number 57 on their jerseys during the finals to honor longtime official Greg Willard.
The National Basketball Referees Association says Willard — who wears the No. 57 referee’s jersey — was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Willard worked games in this season’s playoffs, including one just last week between the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics.
The NBRA says it’s doing so as a “gesture of support” for Willard and his family, and is doing so in cooperation with the NBA.
Willard has been an NBA referee for 24 seasons, with more than 1,500 regular-season games, 120 playoff games and finals appearance since 2010 on his resume.