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Tim Donaghy’s Explosive Book Excerpts

By 10.29.09

Tim Donaghy

For various reasons, disgraced NBA ref Tim Donaghy‘s tell-all book about his antics in the League has been canceled by the book’s publisher. “Blowing the Whistle: The Culture of Fraud in the NBA” was supposed to drop later this month, covering Donaghy’s experience in the NBA and the events leading up to his conviction on federal wire fraud charges.

The official cancellation didn’t hit though until some explosive excerpts were released to some media outlets including Deadspin.com. The clips Deadspin posted from Donaghy’s book are jaw-dropping. We’re not taking sides here, we’re just passing some of them along …

Donaghy on “star treatment” for certain players:

If Kobe Bryant had two fouls in the first or second quarter and went to the bench, one referee would tell the other two, “Kobe’s got two fouls. Let’s make sure that if we call a foul on him, it’s an obvious foul, because otherwise he’s gonna go back to the bench. If he is involved in a play where a foul is called, give the foul to another player.”

Similarly, when games got physically rough, we would huddle up and agree to tighten the game up. So we started calling fouls on guys who didn’t really matter-“ticky-tack” or “touch” fouls where one player just touched another but didn’t really impede his progress. Under regular circumstances these wouldn’t be fouls, but after a skirmish we wanted to regain control. We would never call these types of fouls on superstars, just on the average players who didn’t have star status. It was important to keep the stars on the floor.

Donaghy on how easily refs are influenced by “favorite” players:

Allen Iverson provides a good example of a player who generated strong reaction, both positive and negative, within the corps of NBA referees. For instance, veteran referee Steve Javie hated Allen Iverson and was loathe [sic] to give him a favorable call. If Javie was on the court when Iverson was playing, I would always bet on the other team to win or at least cover the spread. No matter how many times Iverson hit the floor, he rarely saw the foul line. By contrast, referee Joe Crawford had a grandson who idolized Iverson. I once saw Crawford bring the boy out of the stands and onto the floor during warm-ups to meet the superstar. Iverson and Crawford’s grandson were standing there, shaking hands, smiling, talking about all kinds of things. If Joe Crawford was on the court, I was pretty sure Iverson’s team would win or at least cover the spread.

Donaghy on Dick Bavetta:

Two weeks before the 2003–04 season ended, Bavetta and I were assigned to officiate a game in Oakland. That afternoon before the tip-off, we were discussing an upcoming game on our schedule. It was the last regular-season game we were scheduled to work, pitting Denver against San Antonio. Denver had lost a game a few weeks prior because of a mistake made by the referees, a loss that could be the difference between them making or missing the playoffs. Bavetta told me Denver needed the win and that it would look bad for the staff and the league if the Nuggets missed the playoffs by one game. There were still a few games left on the schedule before the end of the season, and the standings could potentially change. But on that day in Oakland, Bavetta looked at me and casually stated, “Denver will win if they need the game. That’s why I’m on it.”

I was thinking, How is Denver going to win on the road in San Antonio? At the time, the Spurs were arguably the best team in the league. Bavetta answered my question before it was asked.

“Duncan will be on the bench with three fouls within the first five minutes of the game,” he calmly stated.

Bavetta went on to inform me that it wasn’t the first time the NBA assigned him to a game for a specific purpose. He cited examples, including the 1993 playoff series when he put New Jersey guard Drazen Petrovic on the bench with quick fouls to help Cleveland beat the Nets. He also spoke openly about the 2002 Los Angeles–Sacramento series and called himself the NBA’s “go-to guy.”

And those are just some of the excerpts. Check out Deadspin for more.

Do you believe everything Tim Donaghy is saying in his book?


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