Orlando Magic Blog

Group Blog talking about the NBA 2009 Eastern Conference Champions. Due to the amazing success of the 2009 playoff run comments are now frequently deleted to kill offensive comments, incoherence, or asininity. Comments can no longer be anonymous and require either a Blogger or OpenID account.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Flagrant Foul

By Adrian Wojnarowski

LAS VEGAS – The nightmare has forever lurked in the reaches of commissioner David Stern's mind, because NBA officials can control a basketball game with calls made and unmade with the subtlest of touches. These referees are human and flawed and can get deep into gambling debt, get addicted, like everyone else in this culture.

And, of course, what the NBA official wields is the most dangerous weapon of all: a twisted whistle.

As the sun rose on the Strip in Vegas, where the best players in the world had gathered for a Team USA minicamp, the doomsday scenario of fixed games hung over the league like an anvil. The FBI has been conducting an investigation into a referee betting on games that he officiated, and perhaps, making calls to control the point spread, the New York Post reported Friday morning.

In a statement, the NBA said, "We have been asked by the FBI, with whom we are working closely, not to comment on this matter at this time."

The official had a gambling problem, a source told the Associated Press, and had been approached by lower level mob associates to work with them. Apparently, there were tens of thousands of dollars in bets on games during the 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 seasons.

It's bad enough that this official allegedly could've controlled games in the regular season, but did point spreads and playoff games get decided by a dirty official?

Did a degenerate ref and mobsters play a part in determining a champion?

All Stern can do is bite his lip and take those charges, because everything about the NBA has been thrown into question. For now, uncomfortable questions hang over the league, and each promises to erode its credibility. Until the official is brought on charges, which could happen within the next week, the AP reported, every suspect call a league official has made over the past two seasons comes under scrutiny.

Ten years ago, several NBA officials were indicted for tax evasion over a travel scheme involving airplane tickets. Some of those officials were let back into the NBA, but this is different. This cuts to the core of the NBA's credibility, and perhaps no league has had to spend more time convincing people that conspiracy theories on officiating were unfounded. For the longest time, there was a belief that referees colluded to protect superstars and glamour teams, that they somehow carried out orders and agendas from beyond the court.

Now, the league can't just haughtily dismiss those charges because there could be something worse than anyone ever imagined: mob-controlled referees. Sooner than later, the charges will start to trickle out, possibly with the unseemly details of a referee caught up in the commissioner's worst nightmare. There have been some scandals through the years in the league, but nothing like this. Nothing close. Sooner than later, all hell is going to break loose. The NBA will never be the same again.


TrueHoop: Nightmare


  • At 6:02 PM, Blogger OVERWADED said…

    The disappointing part is I'm not surprised one bit. I've been calling shenanigans for years. But this is one of those situations where I wished I could be wrong.

  • At 6:22 PM, Blogger Ben Q. Rock said…

    Hopefully this will get people off Stern's back. He's the best commissioner in all of sports today and there is NO WAY he could have controlled this.

    The only people really affected are those who bet on point spreads. As such, I can't get too upset about it.

  • At 7:19 PM, Blogger OVERWADED said…

    Hopefully it's as simple as 1 official fixing games.

    No matter what, the situation opens up a can of worms.

    Fans already questioned games before this. This situation only gives everyone more of a valid reason to be suspect.

    I disagree on who this affects; I think it affects anyone involved with the NBA. Some more than others...

    Me, I don't care that much; because I'm the type of person that expects stuff like this to go on.

  • At 7:53 PM, Blogger Matt said…

    To predict that this could be deeper than it shows to be is premature and unwarranted. If this proves to be a lot more spread than an isolated incident, then repercussions could be grave, but if not why worry at all, certainly not for the commissioner Stern who, I agree with Ben Q. Rock, to be the best commissioner of all sports.

  • At 10:35 AM, Blogger Big Figure said…

    Yeah,i wasnt very surprised by the news either but i was interested in the situation seeing as how we have the organized crime aspect to it. I have to admit when i first heard the news i wondered if the guy had worked in any magic games,the sentinel cleared that up because he referee'd 8 games which we only won 3. Game two of our series with the pistons,the pistons were favored by 8 points going in,they won by eight points,hmmmm?

  • At 1:03 PM, Blogger Ben Q. Rock said…

    The more I think about this situation, the more I realize its gravity. If he's trying to cover point spreads, he's probably just calling a lot of fouls in garbage-time. But what happens if the favored team finds itself in a deep hole in the first few minutes of the game? Suddenly their star player is getting called for touch fouls, giving the favored team free-throws and a chance to regain the lead.

    The only saving grace here is that he NEVER worked an NBA Finals in his entire career. Take that, conspiracy theorists.

  • At 2:39 PM, Blogger OVERWADED said…

    Nice shot Ben. ;) I really wish he worked some of the Finals games last year; maybe that'd explain something's to me.

  • At 3:29 PM, Blogger OVERWADED said…

    To continue with that BIG was saying...

    In December, the Magic lost 103-89 at home to the Phoenix Suns.

    No surprise right?

    However, Dwight Howard had one of his worst games of the season that night, getting only four points before fouling out in 19 minutes. Howard only fouled out of three games last season.

    I actually remember this game. Howard had one awful call after another called against him.

    In January, the Magic lost at home to the Atlanta Hawks, getting outscored 52-35 in the second half. The Magic went into the game favored by nine points.

    To me, it doesn't matter, it was still the Hawks. We tanked against a lot of sub-par teams.

    The interesting game was game 2 of the playoffs as BIG pointed out. Pistons favored by 8; Pistons win 98-90.

  • At 4:32 PM, Blogger OVERWADED said…

    Personally, I've always enjoyed Bill Simmons. He recently wrote an article on Donaghy. If anyone is interested, the link is below.

    The "The Sports Guy: The Donaghy scandal" story is located at:


  • At 5:49 PM, Blogger Matt said…

    Nice writing. But be warned that you may be hooked, and it is a bit too long. I speed read through.

  • At 2:32 AM, Blogger OVERWADED said…

    Sheridan: 3 big questions

    As we head into a monumental week for the NBA, it's time to look at some of the questions that need to be answered by commissioner David Stern and others concerning the Tim Donaghy case.

    Here are three of the biggest ones:

    1. How big is this scandal?

    The New York Daily News reported Sunday that federal authorities believe Donaghy will cooperate with investigators and possibly name other officials or players involved in the scandal. Stern has already come out publicly and said that Donaghy was the one and only referee under suspicion of affecting the outcome of games he officiated, but if the opposite is true and even more referees are involved, Stern's credibility will take another enormous hit. The Daily News said Donaghy has hired former federal prosecutor John Lauro, who specializes in representing whistleblowers, as his defense attorney.

    2. When was the NBA informed that Donaghy was under investigation by the FBI?

    The Denver Post reported Sunday that the answer to that question is January, which, if true, would mean the NBA allowed Donaghy to continue refereeing games, including playoff games, despite knowing he might be crooked. Who in the league office signed off on that?

    3. What about all the red flags?

    According to data compiled by Stats LLC and reported in the New York Post Donaghy led the NBA in technical fouls called, whistling 177 of them -- 20 more than anyone else. Donaghy also ranked fourth in blowing personal fouls; was third in ordering free-throws, and second for fouling-out players for the 2006-2007 season.

    The NBA is meticulous in gathering data on its referees and the calls they make, and if it had a referee calling an inordinate number of technicals, you'd expect they'd speak to Donaghy about it, no?

    Also, The Post reported that NBA officials knew that Donaghy was gambling on football and ordered him to stop.

    Further, the New York Times reported Sunday that Donaghy refereed in 11 games after Jan. 1, 2007, in which the consensus Las Vegas line moved 2 points or more. The team on which bettors wagered heavily enough to move the line that far won 7 of those 11 games. On Jan. 15, the Philadelphia 76ers were originally favored to beat the Toronto Raptors by a point. Bets came in so heavily on the Raptors that they eventually were favored to win by a point instead. The Raptors won in a blowout, 104-86. Two nights later, so much money was bet on the Phoenix Suns against the Houston Rockets that the consensus Las Vegas line, which opened at the Suns favored by 4 ½ points, moved to 8 by tip-off. The Suns won by 9, 100-91.


    I know-it's still premature; but none of this sounds good for David Stern and the NBA. Hey, I got a question... The NBA supposedly reviews every single game. I know I'm not the only one that has watched that stupid show on NBA TV where the lead official tries to justify calls. Anyway, my question... How come they are so "clueless" in regards to this crooked ref, and the only reason it's hitting the public is because the FBI is involved? And I already know what kind of answer I'll get in regards to that question, so the following question is, if the NBA was unable to figure this official out, what will make it any different in the future?


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