Monday, July 23, 2007

NBA officials call a fair game

The NBA acknowledged Friday the FBI is investigating long time NBA referee, Tim Donaghy for betting on games, including ones in which he officiated. According to a law enforcement official, authorities are examining whether the referee made calls to affect the point spread in games on which he or associates had wagered thousands of dollars over the past two seasons. It is thought that Donoghy had a gambling problem and was approached by low-level mob associates through an acquaintance, said the official, who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to discuss the ongoing investigation.

Those studying Donaghy's games might have noticed some trends. When the home team was favored by 0-4 1/2 points, it went 5-12 against the spread in games officiated by Donaghy this season, according to, a Web site that tracks referee trends. Home underdogs were 1-7 against the spread when it was 5-9.5 points. Donaghy was part of a crew working the Heat-Knicks game in New York in February when the Knicks shot 39 free throws to the Heat's eight, technical fouls were called on Heat coach Pat Riley and assistant Ron Rothstein, and the Knicks won by six. New York was
favored by 4 1/2 .

Donaghy is perhaps best-known previously as one of the referees in the 2004 game at Detroit that ended with Indiana Pacers players fighting with Pistons fans, among the biggest black marks in league history. This could far trump that episode.

It looks like the Italian soccer league isn't the only sport being controlled by the mob. Although from a North American persective, this scandal makes Pete Rose's betting scandal look like a mother goose story. Only instead of little Boy Blue blowing his horn, this story will end with Donaghy blowing his black cell mate for a pack of smokes.

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