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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

This Just Keeps Getting Better

From the Boston Herald this morning comes this regarding the absolutely crazy Tim Donaghy Case:
Attorney John F. Lauro ripped into the feds for giving Donaghy’s gambling associates a slap on the wrist, while Donaghy – who ratted them out - is facing a heftier sentence.

Lauro also said Donaghy provided investigators with information about another NBA referee who secretly passed confidential information to a coach, and about other circumstances that affected the outcome of games and "prevented games from being played on a level playing field."

Oh boy... now we have to speculate on what referee that is. Did Donaghy give them a name? If so, when do find that out?

As for Donaghy - the story of how he got started in this is not a pretty one:

Lauro said Battista called Donaghy in 1994 during his first year as an NBA referee and asked whether he was going to be "up and up," which Donaghy interpreted to mean whether he would use his position to help Battista gamble. Donaghy, according to his attorney, rejected the offer and said he would contact the authorities if Battista called again.

But a few years ago, Donaghy began betting heavily on professional sports with Norwood insurance salesman Jack Concannon through local bookie Pete Ruggieri, Lauro wrote.

Eventually, they began gambling on games that Donaghy officiated. Concannon, a former Monsignor Bonner basketball star and former coach of the Friars, was interviewed by the FBI last year, but he will not be charged, his attorney, Joseph Fioravanti, said Monday.

Ruggieri’s attorney could not be reached Monday.

According to the account Lauro provided, Battista muscled his way into the action in late 2006 by threatening to report Donaghy to the NBA if the referee did not help him select bets.

"Battista also threatened Tim’s family, stating that Tim would not want people from New York (Mafia figures) visiting his wife and kids," Lauro wrote.

Battista and his lawyers of course refute those allagations:

Battista’s attorney, Jack McMahon Jr., Monday dismissed that as "ridiculous."

"That Battista threatened Donaghy and his family in any way is all fantasy land. He didn’t have to threaten Donaghy to gamble," McMahon said. "Donaghy was ready, willing and able to gamble. He’s a gambling addict. He said so himself. He’s been running around with this ‘Poor me’ attitude, while all it was was greed, greed, greed."

As for how the betting controlled the outcome of games. Well, the folks over at pregame.com have done some research, the results are mind-blowing:

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Goldberg said in a letter filed Friday in Brooklyn Federal Court that former NBA referee Tim Donaghy bet on about 14 games that he personally officiated during the 2006-07 season.

Compare that admission to the following fact: The first 15 games of the 2006-07 refereed by Tim Donaghy that had big enough betting to move the point spread by at least 1.5 points were UNDEFEATED against Las Vegas meaning that the big money gamblers won a 15 of 15 times on his games. The odds of that happening randomly are 32,768 to 1 said RJ Bell of Pregame.com.

Tim Donaghy officiating style statistically changed during the 2005/06 and 06/07 seasons. During the two years prior (i.e., 03/04 and 04/05) he called significantly less fouls than the average NBA referee (his games scored more than Las Vegas expected only 44% of the time). During his last two seasons he called significantly more fouls than average (his games scored more than Las Vegas expected 57% of the time). The odds of this change happening randomly are approximately 19 to 1.

Keep in mind that a single call can affect the outcome of a pro basketball game. During the 06/07 season alone, 13 games refereed by Tim Donaghy fell within A SINGLE POINT of the Las Vegas point spread. In his final two seasons as a referee, the winner of 14 NBA games refereed by Donaghy was decided by a single bucket or less.

RJ Bell of Pregame.com said: "Over 50 BILLION dollars is gambled on the NBA each season. If not a single call was affected by Donaghy's bets, then we have the whole story. But if calls were affected, the true story is one of game-fixing, and thus much bigger."

I can't imagine David Stern is too happy right about now, but at the same time, considering the Lakers/Spurs & Pistons/Celtics are playing in the conference finals, that should bid well for the NBA. But do the think there is a little pressure now on ALL NBA refs to make the right calls during the next 2 rounds? Wow, I'd hate to be one of those guys.