Certainly the reports regarding NBA referee Tim Donaghy are troubling. By the way, he lives near me here in Florida and I met him once. I don't really know him well, though I knew his dad, ACC official Gerry Donaghy.
This is a sad story for the NBA, if there is validity to the reports. You are innocent until proven guilty, though the way commissioner David Stern made his remarks about the situation were very important. He never used the word "alleged" when discussion wrongdoing and breaking of trust.
I want to make it clear that there are so many outstanding referees in the NBA. We should not indict all of them for the actions of one. In any walk of life, be it law, medicine, education, there are going to be bad people who do the wrong things. It will be interesting to see what transpires in the future. We have to wait and see.
Right now, there will be issues of trust and integrity. Fans pay a lot of money to buy tickets and watch these games, and if there is any question of impropriety, that has to be a major concern. Those anti-NBA fans will jump out like crazy.
I feel bad for all of the players and coaches who bust their gut and train so hard. It is a year-round job staying in shape, preparing for the future, going to the weight room. For coaches, they have to scout and get ready for the next season with a very short vacation after summer leagues. They all knock themselves out.
Coaches are trying to survive and win games, and now there is a question over the way a referee handled himself. The guy with the whistle can affect the game.
Years ago, when I was coaching, when I was ticked off at the first team, I would grab a whistle and make them scrimmage against the second team. The loser would run wind sprints. I would come up with some wacky calls to make the first team run and run, baby!
Basketball is the one game where a guy with the whistle could take the star out. A few calls in the post area with hand-checking and all of a sudden the star can be on the bench in foul trouble. My friends, that changes the game dramatically.
I remember at the Final Four talking about Greg Oden in foul trouble. I made the suggestion that maybe it was time to change the rules, allowing big men in foul trouble to play more. At the time I said that instead of five fouls in college or six in the pros, let coaches have the option of keeping these players in the game, but the penalty for fouls over the limit was two shots and the basketball for the opposing squad.
It will never happen. Whistles should not put players on the sidelines. Now you have to wonder if a guy like Donaghy could influence the score of a game to help bookies.
There was one report that Donaghy may cooperate and mention other officials and even players. That is scary to me. This whole scenario has to play out. I hope that the information about other players and referees was not valid and simply a wild statement.
This whole story is so, so sad.