Thursday, August 16, 2007
Tim Donaghy Bullets
- ESPN's Lester Munson, who is an actual lawyer and knows a lot more about this kind of stuff than I do, says these documents DO imply Donaghy was affecting the outcome of games. (How can such a key point be so vague?): "Did Donaghy's gambling and his work for Battista affect the outcomes of NBA games? Yes. Maybe not always by determining the winner and the loser, but the FBI agents who investigated Donaghy concluded that Donaghy 'compromised [his] objectivity as a referee because of [his] personal financial interest in the outcome of NBA games.' The actual effect may have been a change only in the point spread, but Donaghy easily could have gone far enough to turn a winner into a loser, or vice versa. As the investigation continues, we will know more about his calls and their effects on specific games."
- Brian Windhorst of the Akron Beacon-Journal: "I know that Marc Davis generally holds LeBron James to the traveling rules more than others, I know Dick Bavetta almost always gives Anderson Varejao the benefit of the doubt on block/charge calls, but so do most officials. I know Sean Corbin has a hair trigger on calling technicals and Mike Brown isn't allowed to look cross-eyed at Joey Crawford. Donaghy obviously would have much deeper knowledge as I'm sure some refs and players have deep dislikes for each other that even insiders like me don't detect. But, again, can this actually affect the final outcome of a game? My guess is very, very rarely."
- There has been a lot of speculation that the $30,000 Tim Donaghy has been ordered to forfeit may represent what he was paid by gamblers for inside information. Not so fast, report Robin Shulman and William Branigan in the Washington Post: "A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office, Robert Nardoza, said the $30,000 in restitution that Donaghy is being assessed does not necessarily represent the amount he received as part of the scam." The same article adds: "There was no immediate word from the FBI or the U.S. Attorney's Office on whether Donaghy corruptly influenced the outcome of games he was officiating -- an issue that the FBI's Organized Crime Squad reportedly has been investigating."
- Shira Springer of the Boston Globe: "The events surrounding a Dec. 13, 2006, game between the Celtics and 76ers in Philadelphia raised the suspicion of investigators. According to the indictment, Donaghy 'spoke with a coconspirator by telephone regarding his pick for an NBA game' Dec. 13. The next day, Donaghy met with coconspirators in Pennsylvania and 'received a cash payment.' Donaghy received payments for as much as $5,000 for correct picks and nothing for incorrect picks. Donaghy officiated the game between Boston and Philadelphia along with Matt Boland and Derrick Stafford. It was not a game that would automatically raise suspicion, though Donaghy admitted relaying information regarding the officiating crews assigned games, the interaction between certain officials and players, and the health of players. According to the Associated Press, the pointspread moved 2 points before the game was taken off the board as Boston went from a 1 1/2-point to a 3 1/2-point favorite. The Celtics defeated Philadelphia, 101-81. The over-under line was 194 points. The blowout came with Allen Iverson sidelined as the Sixers pursued a trade for him. Danny Ainge, the Celtics' executive director of basketball operations, declined to comment on the possibility of a Boston game being affected by the scandal." In Brian Mahoney's account of the proceedings for the Associated Press, Mahoney writes: "A person close to the investigation, speaking on condition of anonymity because the case is ongoing, said the payment was for a successful tip on the 76ers-Celtics game." Here is the play-by-play of that game.
- It would be interesting to see if NBA referees are for or against a proposed big fat fancy computer system designed to give an "early warning" of referees influencing games in funny ways. On the one hand, it could improve their reputation. On the other hand, it's like having the doctor put on the rubber glove.
- The NBA could eliminate a big chunk of insider information by doing what the other major sports leagues do: publishing in advance which referees will work which games.
- The New York Post's Marc Berman: "The most startling revelation was when Donaghy told the judge he gave the gamblers info on referee's relationships with certain players, implying there is favoritism in the NBA that could effect the outcome of a game. Yes, we've all suspected some refs call games differently for star players, but to hear it come out in court was depressing." In a seperate story, Berman further explains: "By acknowledging he used referees' identities as a handicapping tool, Donaghy implied NBA officials show favoritism to some teams and players -- a widely held theory that has sullied the league's image."