Greg Willard, 54, longtime NBA referee

Former Nets coach Avery Johnson with Greg Willard.

Duane Burleson/AP/file 2012

Former Nets coach Avery Johnson with Greg Willard.

NEW YORK — Greg Willard, a longtime NBA referee who worked more than 1,600 games before he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, has died.

Mr. Willard, 54, died April 1. He was diagnosed during last season’s playoffs and worked only one more game, a preseason matchup near his home in Huntington Beach, Calif.


Some NBA players, including three-time MVP LeBron James of the Miami Heat, New Orleans Hornets guard Roger Mason, and Sacramento Kings center Cole Aldrich, tweeted condolences to Mr. Willard’s family, as did Golden State Warriors coach Mark Jackson.

“The entire NBA family joins me in mourning the loss,” NBA Commissioner David Stern said. “Greg touched all those with whom he came in contact, thanks to his extra­ordinary spirit, dedication and hard work.”

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