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Mark Cuban hired ex-FBI agent to review NBA referees after losing 2006 Finals

Mark CubanJohn Canzano of the Portland Oregonian has been doing some great work writing a five-part series on NBA referees. In part five of the series published last Friday, he looked into the lack of public accountability for the league’s referees.

In his story, Canzano brought up the controversial ending of Game 5 in the Clippers-Thunder series that saw several calls go against the Clippers, helping Oklahoma City pull off a win. He interviewed former coach/current broadcaster Jeff Van Gundy, who insists there is a human bias from referees against certain coaches and players. And then he brought up Mark Cuban, which is where the real meat came in.

Everyone knows that Cuban has had a long-standing problem with the league’s officials. He’s been fined $1.665 million for multiple offenses. He’s hired his own team of officials to review game tapes and send it to the league office to point out where their calls are wrong. And after his Dallas Mavericks lost the NBA Finals in 2006 to the Miami Heat — a series in which Dwyane Wade shot 97 free throws and the Heat took almost a third more than Dallas — Cuban hired a retired FBI agent to look into the league/referees.

According to Canzano, Cuban hired Warren Flagg, who currently runs an investigation and security firm, to investigate the league because he was considering a lawsuit. Flagg says he told Cuban that the Mavs owner could sue the league and that he would win the case. Cuban elected not to, realizing it was probably best for business to leave things alone.

Tim DonaghyFlagg was also hired by Tim Donaghy’s defense team to investigate the league’s officials during the point shaving scandal. He says the league refused to release its internal Donaghy investigation.

“They wanted this thing to be closed,” Flagg said, “and their story was that Tim was the only bad apple. I’ve never seen a cooperating witness so hammered and badgered. It was because the NBA was running the thing.

“I would like to see if (the NBA) did what it did a few years earlier when the refs were picked up for selling their first-class airline tickets. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out. I’ll bet they did. In that case, they (turned the officials against each other using the threat of termination). They said, ‘If you want to work, tell us what happened.’ If that Donaghy internal investigation ever gets leaked, it’s going to be like the performance-enhancing drug investigation in baseball.”

Can you imagine that? The NBA covering something up that would have been as explosive as the Mitchell Report. He’s probably right, too. The league likes to keep everything quiet and confidential. They don’t like anyone questioning the referees. They like to control the message and don’t want anyone speaking negatively about them. If a coach or player complains about officiating, the league fines the person. Seems more like a dictatorship than world of fairness.

The NBA has rebounded from the Tim Dongahy scandal and managed to instill the faith of the fans in their product. Most fans believe the outcome of games is determined by the players on the court, not other factors such as calls by the referees. But there’s no doubt that referees can heavily influence games by calling fouls on one team’s star players and not the other’s, and by calling fouls and putting one team at the free throw line more than the other. The league also controls because they have the power to suspend players, such as Zach Randolph in Game 7 of the Grizzlies-Thunder series.

I have no doubt that the league is covering up a lot of bad stuff when it comes to the Donaghy investigation. Unlike baseball, though, the officiating problem is unlikely to be exposed.

H/T Pro Basketball Talk

Tim Donaghy: NBA has told refs to give Nets calls over Raptors

Tim-DonaghyFormer NBA referee Tim Donaghy has not officiated a professional basketball game since 2007, but he does not believe much has changed for the league since he was caught betting on games and ended up in prison. In fact, Donaghy thinks the Toronto Raptors will have to beat both the Brooklyn Nets and the officials if they want to advance to the next round of the playoffs.

During an interview with “The Jeff Blair Show” on Sportsnet 590 The Fan on Tuesday, Donaghy spoke about how he believes the NBA has put the Raptors at a disadvantage.

“They’re not only going against the Brooklyn Nets but going against the league office,” Donaghy said. “They have a very talented team and have to be that much better than the Brooklyn Nets. I have picked Brooklyn to win the series with (Paul) Pierce, (Kevin) Garnett, Joe Johnson and even Jason Kidd. When you look at the coaches – the referees are going to be more active to talk and respond to (Kidd) over (Raptors coach) Dwane Casey.”

Not only does Donaghy believe the refs will have more dialogue with Kidd, he also said the league meets with its officials before each playoff game to go over what they want called and don’t want called. In this instance, Donaghy insists the guys in stripes have been told to give the Nets an advantage.

[Read more...]

Tim Donaghy masks will be worn to Game 3 by Celtics fans protesting officiating

There have been several cries about biased officiating in the Heat-Celtics Eastern Conference playoff series, so one Boston radio show is encouraging fans to wear Tim Donaghy masks to Game 3 in protest.

Toucher & Rich of 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston says:

“Let’s face it, folks: the fix is in. So let David Stern know how you feel on national television tonight by wearing your very own TIM DONAGHY MASK.”

Tim Donaghy is the former NBA official who went to jail for fixing games he reffed. Toucher & Rich — and several other Celtics supporters and players — have cited several examples that suggest the refereeing is biased in favor of Miami. Even Doc Rivers blasted the refs for their technical fouls in Game 1.

My guess is that the refereeing was going to lean toward the Celtics in Game 3 considering home teams generally get the calls in NBA games. I can also say with confidence that the last mask giveaway Toucher & Rich encouraged was much better.

Tim Donaghy Breaking Down NBA Finals Refereeing, or Plugging Gambling Sites?

Former NBA referee Tim Donaghy was busted in 2007 for betting on games he reffed and he ended up in prison. Since getting out, he’s written a book and he’s analyzed the refereeing in the playoffs. During the Eastern Conference Finals, Donaghy pointed out that the refs missed a blatant travel by LeBron James against the Bulls. It was something I pointed out on twitter, so I was glad someone else of prominence raised the same point. But then you see his next video, and you realize the guy is only doing infomercials for a betting site.

Before he points out preferential treatment he says LeBron received in Game 1, he makes sure to tell viewers to visit a gambling site. Then, the entire time the video plays, there’s a small text ad at the bottom reminding viewers to hit up the same site. Towards the end of the video, suggests analyst Jeff Van Gundy isn’t critical of LeBron’s non-calls because Van Gundy has money on the games.

Donaghy may have called out some of the unethical refereeing practices going on in the NBA, but there’s little doubt he’s taken things too far. He lacks integrity and honesty, and things he says should be taken with little credibility. Hopefully now that you know he’s only plugging a gambling site, you’ll ignore everything he has to say. He really isn’t worth your attention.

Data Disputes Tim Donaghy’s Claim About Dick Bavetta

The case of Tim Donaghy is a difficult one to analyze. The guy was thrown in prison for betting on games he officiated, shamed, disgraced, and now he’s written a book about the corruption by officials in the NBA. Skeptics will say his claims confirm what they have believed for quite some time, that the NBA officiating is sketchy because of its subjective nature. Others will say that Donaghy is writing with revenge on his mind and that he doesn’t care whose reputation he sullies while trying to make a buck. I think the truth lies somewhere in between; some referees may favor certain teams or individuals and it may be manifested through their calls, but that’s not the case for every official and it doesn’t mean the biased ones do it in all situations. One of Donaghy’s claims was that referee Dick Bavetta bragged about being the ideal “company man” for the NBA and that Bavetta kept games close. The fine gentlemen at True Hoop have done some quality research that would dispute Donaghy’s assertion:

Bavetta officiated 69 games between the beginning of the 2003-04 season and the end of the 2006-07 season where the closing betting line was 10 points or greater. The big underdogs in those contests went 25-44 against the spread — a winning percentage of 36.2 percent. In other words, teams that were expected to be beaten badly were far more likely to be embarrassed when Bavetta was on the floor.

Donaghy may have been outstanding at fixing games he reffed, but he’s apparently incorrect regarding his assertion about Dick Bavetta. I do believe there was some accuracy to what he said about Bavetta’s desire to be in the spotlight and Steve Javie’s dislike of Allen Iverson, but that doesn’t mean all the games they reffed were fixed. The one thing that I still have a tough time accepting, as do many, is the notion that the ’02 Western Conference Finals were officiated fairly. The refs did everything possible to help the Lakers beat the Kings, no doubt about it.

Check out more great info at True Hoop as they further discredit Donaghy’s claims.

Tim Donaghy’s Book: Refs Fix Games, Hate Allen Iverson and Raja Bell

We’ve already established that Tim Donaghy is a crooked person who bet on NBA games that he officiated and fixed. Since he’s already been to jail to serve his time and the league never backed him up, he’s out for payback in the worst way possible: he’s written a book about the officiating corruption in the league that names names and cites specific examples. Although the book doesn’t have a publisher currently, excerpts have reached Deadspin and they’re here for our perusal.

First, here are some of the facts. We’ve already recognized that Donaghy was perfect at moving the spread and delivering. Additionally, one of the games we pinpointed as one he fixed even was mentioned in his excerpt. He even said the reason the free throw disparity favored the Knicks so greatly was that one of the officials was super friendly with Isiah Thomas. Makes sense. Anyway, more on the specifics from the book.

Donaghy specifically states that stars got preferential treatment and that lesser-known players like Raja Bell, who was a defensive stopper, got fouls called against him so he couldn’t shut down the stars as well. He also says that Allen Iverson was given a tough time by referees after he criticized Steve Javie. Donaghy specifically names referees and what their motivation was. The strongest charge was against Dick Bavetta, whom Donaghy called a company man that manipulated games and playoff series including the 2002 Western Conference Finals between the Lakers and Kings. Tim also said that referee Tommy Nunez did everything he could to fix the Suns/Spurs ’07 Western Conference playoff series in favor of San Antonio. The Spurs of course went on to win the NBA Finals.

More Tim Donaghy on LBS:
Tim Donaghy’s Bookies Were Only Mob Wanna-Be’s
Games Fixed by Tim Donaghy
Tim Donaghy Was Beat Up in Prison

Tim Donaghy Was Beat Up in Prison

Man, when was the last time you heard the name Tim Donaghy? The “disgraced” former NBA referee as he’s typically called by the media, was found guilty of betting on games he reffed and fixed, and sentenced to a long term in prison. Initially we were told he was only dealing with small-time crooks, just some former high school classmates. Apparently prison is no place for someone only into small time stuff, no surprise. Check out this tidbit about Donaghy who’s set to be released in a week:

Former NBA referee Tim Donaghy will be released from prison on June 17, 2009. Donaghy, convicted for betting on professional basketball is serving a 15-month sentence at the federal prison camp in Pensacola, Florida. Donaghy’s release date has recently been in question due to concerns about his medical condition. Donaghy was injured during an assault in November of 2008. During the assault, another inmate claiming ties to the New York mob beat Donaghy with a heavy object. Donaghy suffered severe knee and leg injuries that will require surgery. Donaghy will complete his prison term at a halfway house in Tampa Florida.

How’s that for some role reversal? Donaghy’s messing with gamblers and fixing games, yet he’s the one who gets his legs broken (OK, just assaulted) while in prison. Not mentioned in the press release is that he later got traded for five chocolate milks and six packs of cigarettes whose brand was to be named later. Minimum security white collar luxury resort my ass.

(via Ben Maller, of course)