Disgraced former NBA ref blowing whistle on the league | Opinion

NBA official Tim Donaghy talks with another official during a timeout during a Washington Wizards vs. New Jersey Nets basketball game, April 10, 2007, in Washington. Donaghy was sentenced to 15 months in prison for wire fraud and transmitting betting information after taking thousands of dollars from a gambler for inside tips on games, including games he worked.

Haraz N. Ghanbari, Associated Press

The NBA would like us all to forget about disgraced former referee Tim Donaghy and the gambling scandal that rocked the league.

Which is exactly why we are going to remember it.

Donaghy, who wrote a book about his experience more than a decade ago, is talking again. This time he participated in a documentary — “Operation Flagrant Foul” — which is streaming on Netflix. In the opening minutes of the documentary, after the NBA is asked for a comment, the league responds: “Tim Donaghy is a convicted felon. … There is no basis now to revisit any of this.”

Whenever people in positions of power tell you that, it means just the opposite. Let’s revisit it.

Donaghy, you’ll remember, was the NBA referee who was at the center of a huge gambling scandal in 2007 that cast real (further) doubt on the integrity of the NBA. As any sports aficionado knows, the sports world freaks out whenever a player, coach or official gambles on games because it compromises the integrity of the competition.

The NFL suspended wide receiver Calvin Ridley indefinitely this year for betting on NFL games, a punishment that surpassed even the 11-game suspension of quarterback Deshaun Watson for two dozen cases of sexual assault. Shoeless Joe Jackson and the Black Sox were banned for life for fixing Major League Baseball games. Superstars Paul Hornung and Alex Karras were suspended by the NFL for the entire 1963 season for betting on games.

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Anyway, the NBA hit the panic button when Donaghy’s crime was uncovered; the league just wanted it to go away already. Donaghy went away, all right, serving 11 months of a 15-month prison sentence. He had accepted money from a professional gambler in exchange for inside tips and made bets on games, some in which he officiated.

With all that behind him, Donaghy is speaking out again, pulling the curtain back on the league and the way it works. You can’t watch the documentary and not believe that the league is less than honest, as well. The NBA shares blame for creating situations that make it vulnerable to manipulation by the officials with its uneven enforcement of its own rules. And if Donaghy is to be believed, many of the fans’ worst suspicions about the league are true.

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Source:: Deseret News – Sports News

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