Infamous former NBA referee blowing the whistle on the league | Opinion

The NBA Wants Us To Forget About The Infamous Former Referee Tim Donaghy And the gambling scandal that rocked the league.

That’s why we’re going to miss it.

Donaghy, who wrote a book about his experience more than a decade ago, is speaking out again. this time he attended in a documentary – “Operation Flagrant Foul” – which is streaming on Netflix. In the opening minutes of the documentary, after the NBA was asked for a comment, the league responded: “Tim Donaghy is a convicted felon. … There is no longer any basis to reconsider this.”

Whenever people in power say this to you, it means exactly the opposite. Let’s look at it again.

Donaghi, you will remember, was an NBA referee who was at the center of a massive gambling scandal in 2007 that cast genuine (further) doubts on the integrity of the NBA. As any sports lover knows, the sports world goes crazy whenever a player, coach or official gambles on a game for exactly the same reason – it compromises the belief that competition is fair.

NFL Suspended wide receiver Calvin Ridley For betting on NFL games indefinitely this year, a punishment that went even further 11-game suspension Quarterback Deshaun Watson for two dozen counts of sexual assault. Shoeless Joe Jackson and the Black Sox were banned for life for fixing Major League Baseball games. Superstars were Paul Hornung and Alex Karras NFL. suspended by For the entire 1963 season to bet on games.

Anyway, the NBA hit the panic button when Donaghy’s guilt was exposed; The league just wanted him to get away already. Donaghi gone, okay, is serving 11 months of a 15-month prison sentence. He accepted money from a professional gambler in exchange for insider tips and bets on games, some of which he officiated.

With everything behind him, Donaghy is speaking out again, pulling back the curtain on the league and the way it works. You can’t watch documentaries and believe that the league is less than honest. The NBA is responsible for creating conditions for manipulation by officials with uneven enforcement of its own rules. And if Donaghy is to be believed, many of the fans’ doubts about the league are true.

Fans have often accused the league of favoring the stars in the way the games are called; It does, Donaghy says.

Fans have accused referees of making makeup calls and calling some players to fail; They do, Donaghy says.

Fans have alleged that referees have a personal agenda and are intentionally inconsistent; They do and they are, Donaghy says.

Donaghy recounts how the referee took revenge on star guard Alan Iverson. Iverson threatened referee Steve JV during the 2006–07 season. The league fined the player $25,000, but other referees were upset that there was no suspension.

According to Donaghy, he called a series of “palming” violations – dribbling from the bottom half of the ball, which allows him to carry it and cover more court. Although it is a rule, it is rarely enforced, but it was used that night against Iverson. Here’s the issue: Why doesn’t the NBA always enforce that rule? Why leave it open to interpretation and something that referees can use for their own agenda? The same goes for the law of perpendicularity and other forms of travel violation, which apply inconsistently, if at all.

In the documentary, Donaghy cites a vivid example. He says the league decided to crack down on a certain spin move, calling it a travel violation. One night Donaghy made the same call – on Michael Jordan. As Donaghy puts it, “Phil Jackson (Jordan’s coach) comes flying off the bench and he starts giving me (disrespectful). And I say, wait a second, Phil, you know I’m too Let’s say that’s the spin move they’re asking us to call, and they said, ‘They want that play to be called, but they certainly don’t want it to be called.’ Later, in the locker room, another referee told Donaghy, ‘They want that call, but don’t call him.'”

Donaghy says, “When (Commissioner) David Stern structured the league we knew as officials that it was better to treat the star players better than the others. I just wanted to be the best referee and move up the ladder. Wanted and I saw the way people handled the game in the NBA Finals. They didn’t foul against the stars, and they were highly respected. These (fans) who would pay thousands of dollars to sit here on the court Well, they didn’t come here to bench sit Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Shaquille O’Neal. They came to watch them play. The league is your boss, and you want them to think you’re doing a good job. Because if that’s the case then you’re on the playoff roster that comes out. With that comes more money and a huge amount of respect.”

Donaghy says fans should maintain a dose of skepticism about the league. He told USA Today, “I was into the inner workings of it for 14 years and I looked at what we were going to do and how star players were treated, and it was different, depending on which jersey. What’s in front and behind. And the rules weren’t enforced because they were written in the rule book. I saw it then and still see it.”

Ironically, in recent years, The NBA has embraced – of all things – gamblingStill looking for more revenue. The league, which once abhorred any connection to gambling, has formed partnerships with several gambling businesses – among them MGM Resorts, which owns casinos across the country, Scores, SportRadar and various media outlets that specialize in bookmakers and sportsbooks. will provide access to NBA data. , “It’s hard to believe you couldn’t bet legal on sports less than a decade ago unless you were in Nevada,” writes Roger Wright In Versus Sports… “Things have changed so fast that NBA teams now entertain the idea of ​​a sportsbook on their premises.”

The league is trying to bury Donaghy shit on one hand while embracing gambling on the other. Money does matter, but it remains to be seen whether, even after so many years of abstaining from gambling, it can avoid the pitfalls the league found itself in the Donaghy business.


In this July 29, 2008, file photo, former NBA referee Tim Donaghy walks out of Brooklyn federal court after pleading guilty to federal charges that he paid a professional gambler for insider tips on games took.

Louis Lanzano, Associated Press

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