The Donaghy scandal has had a lot of talk, and fragments of insight, but for the first time this week it has an authoritative book, thanks to two years of research from Penn State associate professor of criminal justice Sean Patrick Griffin.
That book tells a lot, but most importantly it assembles the testimony of the scandal's four conspirators. Three out of the four say that Tim Donaghy's betting picks were abnormally successful on games he reffed, and unhelpful otherwise.
The only one of the four to assert Donaghy did not fix games: Donaghy himself.
Before All-Star Saturday night, David Stern met the media, and I asked him about the book. His response:
I have not read the new book or seen it yet, although I'm happy with each All Star Weekend or Finals to present an opportunity for a convicted felon to issue yet another tome on his misdeeds.
So we'll see if there's anything new suggested, Mr. Pedowitz will be asked to continue to review it as we have with each one that has been published, because we want to make sure that we get to the bottom of it all.
But right now, I don't have any more information other than I know you always confirm your sources; so I commend you to confirming the convicted felon's sources.
Stern does a bit of taunting there, saying, essentially, "look who your source is!" And indeed Griffin's book was written in collaboration with convicted gambler James Battista.
Nevertheless, the source argument may not serve Stern this time. The predominant story, that Donaghy did not fix games originated with ... Tim Donaghy himself. Despite what Donaghy will tell you, that version of events has not been rigorously vetted by the FBI (to whom it was tangential) or the NBA (whose investigators watched a tiny fraction of the games in question, and even then found some causes for concern).
The three conspirators tell a story of Donaghy picking at an unheard-of rate in games he refereed, which is supported by betting line movement and an ocean of other factors, including the crumbling of Donaghy's version of events when put to the test and the utter lack of any confirmation of Donaghy's story from anybody in the know.
People who have dug in deeply do not share the commissioner's breezy confidence. And so long as the best available evidence suggests -- in this case, fairly screams -- that there may be fixed games in the NBA record, to me the only proper state of mind is open. It's an important question that deserves a real examination of the evidence, much of which is amassed in a book that Stern seems a bit too eager to ignore.