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)

This Is What a Fixed Game Looks Like

Last year when this news first broke, it was Henry Abbott’s interview at True Hoop that delineated how good Tim Donaghy was at fixing games. To refresh your memory, 15 out of 15 times the point spread moved by at least 1.5 points in a sportsbook for a Donaghy-reffed game, the way the spread moved was the team that won. OK, so that gives you a good idea how easy it is for a crook ref like Donaghy to manipulate a game. Anyway, I’m not sure if you’ve seen this or not, but I haven’t, so that’s why I’ll share it here. Via True Hoop’s intrepid digging once again, we have the following fixed games as pointed out by the sports betting pro :

I can say with a large degree of certainty that this game was one of the more blatant fixes. That Phoenix vs. New York game was a game that I was told was bet by the crew associated with [alleged Donaghy co-conspirator James "Baa Baa"] Batista, it was also a game where Phoenix shot 14 free throws in regulation and New York shot 36.

Here are couple of other Tim Donaghy games that may make for some interesting viewing. Miami at New York on February 26, 2007. There was a 39 to eight free throw disparity in that one.

Tim Donaghy refereed a 2003 Knicks at Lakers game that had a 47 to six free throw disparity.

In a 2006 Orlando at Utah game refereed by Tim Donaghy, there were two technicals called against Orlando in the final two seconds of the game.

Nothing too new — you knew already that Donaghy bet on games he reffed and that Donaghy says some past playoff series were fixed. But those were examples of fixed games, as picked out by a gambling expert. Seems pretty similar to Game 2 between the Lakers and Celtics, no? What was the free throw disparity again, 38-10? Ho-hum, nothing to see here. Of course, this wouldn’t be the first time visual evidence were made of Donaghy’s scummy moves.

I Helped Fix NBA Games, Too

Every sport has its problems. Baseball has the taint of steroids and other performance enhancing drugs (viagra, anyone?), football has PEDs as well, not to mention cheating coaches, and basketball has referees shaving points. The problem for the other sports? They should be blessed with enough fans to make a controversy this big of a deal. Anyway, I don’t think it took Donaghy saying it for you and I to know that stars get preferential treatment. Who knows if refs were actually reprimanded after the fact for ejecting or fouling a star out in a game. That’s just speculative. But the stars get preferential treatment — we deal with it. Same thing happens in baseball with hitters who have reputations of good batting eyes and pitchers who work the corners — they all get the calls. In football, respected lineman don’t get nabbed for the holds while the rookies do. Just the way it works.

The problem with the NBA, much like boxing and football, is that too much of the outcome is put into the subjective hands of the officials. They have biases, they’re not all honest, and in fact, many of them can be on the take. It’s disgusting when you start to think about how much they could have impacted games you’ve watched in the past. They make you question decisions and calls. The tuck rule? The pass interference on Miami? The Roy Jones Jr. ’88 Olympics decision? These are just a few examples of many. It’s sad that we can no longer watch sports and know that we are always watching a pure entity.

Donaghy may be a piece of crap who is singing like a canary, but his words can’t be completely ignored. It’s not just in basketball where the corruption is occurring — it’s bound to happen in any sport where judgment is subjective and not black and white. It’s a shame it has to ruin sports for us in a way. I usually like to come to some sort of coherent resolution in my writings, but I think the best advice I can deliver is to tell you to ignore this when you’re watching games. If you’re constantly worrying about who’s on the take and what’s fixed and what isn’t, it will take the enjoyment out of everything. Besides, if a player takes matters into his hand by hitting a home run, throwing a touchdown pass, nailing a three pointer, or recording a knockout, then the refs really can’t do too much about it anyway (I take that back, sometimes they create new rules or reverse/alter outcomes). At least we can take solace in knowing that some aspects of sports can’t be fixed and that professional athletes make too much money to be involved with this (we hope).