As the Lakers try to pull their heads out of the clouds in this year’s NBA finals, former referee Tim Donaghy has finally flipped. Flipped in the sense that he will say anything to federal prosecutors for a shortened prison sentence.
Almost a year ago, Donaghy was arrested and charged for betting on NBA games. And not only did he bet on the games, the man was smart enough to bet on games he had control of with his whistle and cheap calls. But Donaghy wasn’t smart enough to not get caught. He has pled guilty to the charges and will be sentenced next month.
In the months leading up to his sentencing, and under pressure from the feds, Donaghy has unveiled many of the antics happening inside the NBA. On Tuesday, in his quest for a lighter sentence, Donaghy sent a letter to the U.S. District Judge detailing his accusations that NBA executives directed referees “to manipulate games” in order to boost ticket sales and improve television ratings, according to a report in The New York Times.
Donaghy did not name any teams in his accusations, but did point the finger to Game 6 of the 2002 Western Conference Finals in which the Lakers shot 40 free throws, beating Sacramento 106-102.
But Donaghy didn’t stop there. According to his letter, other referees socialized with coaches and players and asked for autographs and free merchandise. NBA officials also instructed the refs to not call technical fouls on certain big-name players to keep ticket sales and TV ratings at their highest point. He even said that one personal relationship between another ref and a team manager led to an attempt by the ref to change the outcome of a game.
A spokesperson for the NBA has, of course, denied all of Donaghy’s allegations. “Tim Donaghy has had honesty and credibility issues from the get-go,” the spokesperson said in a statement to The Times. “He may be willing to say anything to help his cause and he may believe these most recent allegations will help his agenda.”
True, Donaghy’s credibility is questionable, but as my vast knowledge of gangster movies informs my everyday opinions, I think he might just be telling the truth. I am reminded of a scene out of Casino where Joe Pesci has a loyal enemy’s head in a vice – literally. What this gruesome scene portrayed was all too real. With enough pressure, either physically or mentally, anybody will spill the beans no matter how tough and dedicated they are.
With that image in mind, I am beginning to believe Donaghy’s allegations. I have never trusted the NBA, nor really even liked the NBA, so why not? Donaghy is telling the truth and all of these referee instructions made by NBA officials (Or should we call them Capos?) have been going on for a very long time and the true modus operandi of the NBA is finally being revealed.
Think of Donaghy as a junkie gambler always wanting to make an extra buck while reefing the land’s biggest games, comparable to the heroin junkie Christopher Moltisanti, from the Sopranos. Both men are liabilities for the organizations they represent. A heroin junkie in a mob family who is caught by the authorities could bring down the whole family Henry Hill style.
Donaghy is no different. He is, and always was, a liability to the heads of the NBA. How long have they known about Donaghy’s betting? Was he really that good a ref in enforcing their unjust agenda? For their sake, I sure hope the decisions Donaghy made on the court have made the NBA a ton of money because he has flipped. He has flipped and the feds have him right where they want him. He is going to jail no matter what so, with a carrot and a stick, they are looking for more unsportsmanlike behavior in the NBA, and Donaghy is giving it to them.
Under normal circumstances Donaghy can’t be trusted, but in this case, I think we would be stupid not to listen to him. The only option he has left is to tell the truth. And the truth is the NBA is just as bad as I have said all along. So thank you, Donaghy, for clearing any lingering doubts.
So in honor of Donaghy’s fine work in the NBA, and since last week’s drink recipe was so well received, I leave you with another. It’s a true late-night favorite, the Homewrecker.
2 oz Midori melon liqueur
2 oz Tequila
2 oz Cranberry juice
1 oz Jägermeister
Shake all ingredients and pour over cracked ice.