NBA Referee May Have Bet on Games
Saturday, July 21, 2007
The FBI is investigating veteran NBA referee Tim Donaghy for allegedly betting thousands of dollars on games he worked the past two seasons and possibly unduly influencing their outcome.
The NBA is cooperating in the probe, according to a statement released by Commissioner David Stern. Donaghy, 40, recently resigned after becoming aware of the investigation, according to reports. He had been a league referee since 1994, working regular season and playoff games.
"We would like to assure our fans that no amount of effort, time or personnel is being spared to assist in this investigation, to bring to justice an individual who has betrayed the most sacred trust in professional sports, and to take the necessary steps to protect against this ever happening again," Stern said in the statement.
The investigation was first reported in yesterday's editions of the New York Post. Donaghy's identity was revealed yesterday afternoon by several outlets. The New York Post reported that investigators believe Donaghy's gambling is linked to organized crime.
An NBA assistant coach who spoke yesterday on the condition of anonymity said he was "shocked" by the allegations, in part because Donaghy has a solid reputation in coaching circles.
"He's always been one of the good guys," the assistant coach said. "He would [call a technical foul] if you were acting crazy towards him or whatever, but he was also one of those guys who would walk over and talk to you and explain a call. I've always felt that he was one of the better refs in the league, so this really came as a surprise."
Donaghy called seven regular season games involving the Washington Wizards last season, including a 93-92 home win over the Atlanta Hawks on March 2 and a 98-95 win at Indiana on April 18, a victory that helped the Wizards clinch a playoff berth.
Donaghy called a total of 131 regular season and 20 playoff games the last two seasons, though none of the playoff games involved the Wizards.
Stern has regularly been forced to defend the integrity of the league's referees, particularly during recent hotly contested playoff series. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has been fined repeatedly for publicly questioning the quality of the league's officials and for criticizing the league's process for evaluating their performances.
Wizards Coach Eddie Jordan was fined $25,000 for comments he made about the referees during his team's tense first-round playoff series loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2006.
Jordan had suggested that referees were favoring Cavaliers star LeBron James and failed to call James for traveling on a key play that decided Game 3 of that series.
The league's referees are regularly suspected of showing favoritism toward star players. The playoffs produce fresh speculation that the league somehow tilts calls to force a particular outcome.
During this spring's playoffs, veteran referee Joey Crawford was suspended after ejecting San Antonio Spurs star Tim Duncan for laughing from the bench after a teammate was called for a foul.
No referee, umpire, linesmen or other in-game official has ever been arrested or indicted for point-shaving or match-fixing in the history of the four major sports in North America, but several match-fixing scandals involving referees have occurred in international soccer.