POSTED: Apr 2, 2013 12:57 PM ET
NEW YORK — NBA veteran official Greg Willard died yesterday after a courageous battle with cancer. He was 54.
"The entire NBA family joins me in mourning the loss of one of our own, Greg Willard," NBA Commissioner David Stern said. "Greg touched all those with whom he came in contact thanks to his extraordinary spirit, dedication and hard work. As a Finals referee, he reached the highest level of his profession while at the same time demonstrating a strong commitment to his family and his community. Our thoughts are with his wife Laurie, their children and the rest of the Willard family during this difficult time."
To honor Willard's memory, all NBA officials will wear wristbands or patches with his jersey number 57 for the remainder of the 2012-13 NBA season. The NBA will also have a moment of silence at all games tonight and Wednesday for Willard.
A resident of Huntington Beach, Calif., Willard officiated 1,494 regular season games, 136 playoff games, two Finals games and the 2006 NBA All-Star Game.
The National Basketball Referees Association issued the following statement regarding Willard's death:
"Greg epitomized what it meant to be an NBA Referee through dedication to his craft, hard work, and integrity both on-and-off the court," said NBRA General Counsel Lee Seham. "He was not only a great NBA Referee, but more importantly a wonderful person, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this difficult time."