Greg Eno

Archive for the ‘Tim Donaghy’ Category

If Even A Smidge Of What Donaghy Alleges Is True, The NBA Is Toast

In NBA, Tim Donaghy on June 11, 2008 at 12:19 pm

Nobody wants to believe Tim Donaghy. Nobody wants to think that the disgraced former NBA referee has one ounce of credibility left in him. Everyone wants to believe that the air with which he once used to blow whistles is all hot. For to believe otherwise cuts at the very core of the trust that is placed in professional sports.

Yet Donaghy isn’t going gently into the night.

In a filing made Tuesday in U.S. District Court in New York thru his attorney, Donaghy alleges that certain referees conspired with the league to force a seventh game in the 2002 Western Conference Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Sacramento Kings. While the series itself isn’t mentioned by name, its identity has been fairly easy to deduce from the details Donaghy provided. Game 6 of that series was highly controversial to begin with, and Donaghy’s allegations have re-stoked that fire.

Here’s a portion of Donaghy’s statement (Team 5 is Sacramento and Team 6 is Los Angeles):

“Referees A, F and G were officiating a playoff series between Teams 5 and 6 in May of 2002. It was the sixth game of a seven-game series, and a Team 5 victory that night would have ended the series. However, Tim learned from Referee A that Referees A and F wanted to extend the series to seven games. Tim knew referees A and F to be “company men,” always acting in the interest of the NBA, and that night, it was in the NBA’s interest to add another game to the series. Referees A and F heavily favored Team 6. Personal fouls [resulting in obviously injured players] were ignored even when they occurred in full view of the referees. Conversely, the referees called made-up fouls on Team 5 in order to give additional free throw opportunities for Team 6. Their foul-calling also led to the ejection of two Team 5 players. The referees’ favoring of Team 6 led to that team’s victory that night, and Team 6 came back from behind to win that series.”

The Lakers attempted 40 free throws to the Kings’ 25 in that game, and in the fourth quarter alone, Los Angeles made 21-of-27 from the line while Sacramento converted just 7-of-9.

It nags that Donaghy’s accusations are more than just the desperate bleatings of a condemned man.

The timing of all this couldn’t be worse, either — the NBA Finals droning on, and in the very same city where Donaghy alleged the wrongdoings happened back in 2002.

I must admit to believing there might just be something to Donaghy’s words — some shred of truth to what he’s alleging. And the Lakers-Kings thing is hardly the only act of impropriety Donaghy makes reference to. You can read the laundry list here.

Let’s not give the NBA a free pass here, either. Shame on them if even a quarter of what Donaghy alleges turns out to be fact, not fiction. Don’t automatically brand Donaghy the pathetic, desperate man and the league a besmirched innocent. Where there’s smoke there’s fire, the line goes, and Donaghy is blowing more smoke here than a greasy grill on Memorial Day. Again, it causes one to shift uncomfortably in his chair to think of the ramifications, the domino-like effect, that some of this stuff would cause if it actually occurred the way Donaghy claims.

So what to do?

Nothing, really — except to let the legal process take its course. No doubt the NBA office’s spinmasters are working overtime, preparing for counterattacks to the onslaught of bad press and bad mouthing that is sure to deluge them. Some of it already has, of course. The NBA has to be prepared should this nastiness grow some credibility. We simply would not be able to watch another NBA game again in the same way as before anyone ever heard of Tim Donaghy. How could we? How could we walk out of an arena, or turn off a TV, NOT thinking that other, grander forces were at work if our team didn’t come out on top during a close, crucial game?

This is bigger than just Tim Donaghy. He’s not the only one facing legal and public opinion judgment. This is about an entire league and its foundation.

So, back to the Finals, huh?

Not so easy to do.

Who Knows What Evil Lurks In The Hearts Of Officiating Men? Tim Donaghy, Perhaps?

In NBA, Tim Donaghy on July 26, 2007 at 3:24 pm

Notice how you never see Tim Donaghy and Don Denkinger in the same place at the same time? Or Donaghy and the crew who worked the USA-USSR 1972 Olympic basketball game? Or Donaghy and the officials for the “Immaculate Reception” play in Pittsburgh? Or Donaghy and the ref who gave Tom Brady the benefit in the famous “tuck” game in the playoffs against Oakland? Or Donaghy and the ref during the famous “long count” boxing match between Jack Dempsey and Gene Tunney?

Have we bothered to check more into Donaghy, the disgraced NBA ref who’s under investigation for betting on games and possible affecting their outcomes? Do we know how old he REALLY is, for example? Is it possible that his physical body is just a contemporary vessel for the crooked officating spirits that have lurked in professional and college sports for over a century? How can we be sure that Donaghy isn’t some sort of refereeing demon who cannot and will not be killed?

Hey, for that matter, has there been a sighting of Donaghy and Simon Cowell together?

I’m starting to wonder if there’s now an explanation for some of sport’s most suspicious calls and actions ever made by game officials in the past.

1. Denkinger was the first base umpire in Game 6 of the 1985 World Series. In the bottom of the ninth inning, the Royals trailing the Cardinals 1-0, and 3-2 in the Series, Jorge Orta tapped a ball to first baseman Jack Clark, who flipped the ball to pitcher Todd Worrell, who caught it and stabbed his foot at the bag. Denkinger (wrongly) ruled that Worrell’s foot missed the base. The Royals, thanks to that leadoff “hit,” were able to score two runs and win the game. They won the Series the next night. I doubt anyone was hoping for a Cardinals win in Game 7 more than Don Denkinger/Tim Donaghy, after replays of his blunder were shown around the world for 24 hrs. He’s SAFE! (Please disregard the photographic evidence to the contrary)

2. The USA was robbed several times at the tail end of the gold medal basketball game in the 1972 Summer Olympics against the USSR. After Doug Collins (yes, the same one) hit two free throws to put USA up by one point, there were three seconds remaining. The Soviets inbounded the ball and failed to score. USA wins!! But the refs — none of whom spoke English — ruled that the Soviets called time out before the ball was inbounded. On the second try, the Soviets again failed to score. USA wins!! But the refs again intervened, trying to explain to USA coach Hank Iba that the clock hadn’t been properly reset. On the third try, the ball was heaved all the way down the court, where a Soviet player blatantly fouled two USA players, muscled the ball away from them, and layed it in. USSR wins!! And it counts! The USA team was so disgusted with the actions of the officials/Donaghy that they refused their silver medal, which I always thought was cool as hell.

3. In a 1972 divisional playoff game, the Steelers were losing, 7-6, with 22 seconds remaining. Terry Bradshaw scrambled and chucked the ball downfield. Steelers running back Frenchy Fuqua and Raiders safety Jack Tatum convened at the same time as the pigskin arrived. There was a collision. The ball floated toward the turf. Franco Harris appeared out of nowhere and snagged it with his fingertips, inches from the ground. He galloped in for the winning touchdown. The officials conferred for what seemed like an eternity (in those days, two consecutive offensive players couldn’t touch a forward pass, so the issue was, did Tatum touch the ball last, or did Fuqua?). According to Al LoCasale, a Raiders exec, the officials asked how much police protection they could get if they made the proper call, which was no touchdown? When told of the skimpy number of cops, the officials/Donaghy ruled TD, Pittsburgh. According to LoCasale — who’s hardly an unbiased informant.

Franco, Franco, the Steelers man — took the football (and the game) and away he ran (thanks to Donaghy?)

4. On January 20, 2002, the Raiders were leading the Patriots by three points with under two minutes remaining in a snowstorm in Foxboro, Mass. Pats QB Tom Brady faded back to pass and just was he was hit by Chuck Woodson, he brought his arm forward, as if to tuck the ball in. But the ball slipped loose. The Raiders recovered it. But referee Walter Coleman/Tim Donaghy rules, after viewing the replay, that Brady’s arm coming forward — even though it was for a tuck — categorizes the move as an attempted pass. No fumble — incomplete pass instead. Given second life, Brady leads the Pats to a game-tying FG and a game-winning kick in OT. And, eventually, a Super Bowl victory over the Rams.

5. On September 22, 1927, heavyweight boxing champion Gene Tunney fought Jack Dempsey in a title match. In the seventh round, Dempsey caught Tunney good with a left to the chin. The champion fell. But before starting the count, referee Dave Barry/Donaghy spent precious seconds telling Dempsey to go to a neutral corner. By the time he started the count, witnesses estimate that Tunney had an extra 8-10 seconds to recover, which he did. Later, of course, Tunney won by unanimous decision and defended his belt.

Barry/Donaghy spends too much time getting Dempsey (left) to a neutral corner

It may not make any sense to you, but who’s to say that Tim Donaghy hasn’t been existing in the souls of officials and referees, past and present, for years??

No Matter How Small A Man He Is, Donaghy Casts A Very Large And Dark Shadow

In David Stern, gambling, NBA, scandal, Tim Donaghy on July 23, 2007 at 5:01 pm

I don’t know much about Tim Donaghy. I don’t know how tall he is, for example. So therefore, I have no idea how big of a shadow he casts — physically. But I do know this: the shadow he casts, figuratively, is greater than one of those gargantuan space ships that were in Independence Day.

Donaghy, the ex-NBA referee in the middle of a firestorm caused by news that he’s under investigation by the Feds for betting on games and affecting their outcomes, may be just one man, but the “Lone Nut” theory doesn’t apply here.

You see, it really doesn’t matter if it turns out that Donaghy is just a poor sap who got himself involved in some gambling debts that he couldn’t take care of on his referee’s salary, thereby forcing him into a desperate route of game-fixing. It’s irrelevant if only Donaghy was crooked, and none of his officiating brothers so much as blew one inadvertent whistle. It is totally meaningless if he’s alone in this mess, because once the news broke and was confirmed, Tim Donaghy wasn’t alone. Not even close.

It’s not all that complicated. For if mobsters, no matter how “low level” they might be, can compromise an NBA referee once, then who’s to say they can’t do it again, or haven’t done it again? And, even bigger, who’s to say that any of the other professional team sports are immune to it? Donaghy isn’t a “Lone Nut,” after all. This bombshell has forever changed the way fans, media, and players look at game officials. How can it NOT?

Not that the NBA, or the other leagues, shouldn’t do all they can to ensure that this never happens again, of course. It’s not a losing battle from that perspective. Time heals, they say. If nothing like this is even sniffed about for the next several years, then maybe Tim Donaghy can indeed acquire the label of “Lone Nut” with minimal damage to the integrity of pro (and dare I say, college) sports.

The NBA, clearly, has no choice but to overreact — and I hope they do. I hope they go overboard in dealing with this, once the legalities play out and more information is gathered and authenticated. I hope Commissioner David Stern treats this as the albatross that it is — an ugly one around the necks of his league that he’s spent so much time building.

But now is not the time for overreaction — at least not by Stern and his deputies. Now is the time for patience, waiting for everything to kind of sort itself out. A league investigation is obviously in order, concurrent with the federal one of Donaghy. Rumors, of course, are swirling that Donaghy is poised to sing to the Feds like a canary, and that in that tune will be the names of other referees — and even some players. That thought is too chilling to digest right now, if ever. All the more reason to overreact when the time is right.

Now, you must understand something. The FBI doesn’t investigate things for fun. This isn’t some team building exercise for their employees. They’re nosing around because there is very credible evidence that something stinks with at least one man in the grey, blue and red shirts. And they want to know if there are others.

So it’s likely that where there’s smoke, there’s fire in the case of Tim Donaghy. And if it’s just him — if he’s just one dude who succumbed to the weight of a gambling debt owed to some unsavory folks, it may be considered good news by most. Thank goodness there was no one else involved, they’ll say.

But you kinda gotta ask yourself: How long has this been going on? And, worse, where else?

Doesn’t seem like such good news anymore, does it?