Tag:Tim Donaghy
Posted on: May 20, 2010 6:40 pm
Edited on: May 20, 2010 7:02 pm

NBA gets it right with ref ban

What Joe DeRosa did at halftime Tuesday night wasn't egregious. It wasn't close to a federal offense, even in David Stern's court of law.

A fan in the first row behind the scorer's table was heckling DeRosa, an 18-year veteran NBA referee. DeRosa didn't like it, so he tossed the basketball at the fan. The fan caught it and fired it back. DeRosa motioned for the fan to be ejected. That was it. Nobody got hurt.

No harm, no foul. Right? The Eastern Conference finals between the Magic and Celtics would continue without incident.

Not quite. The NBA did the right thing Thursday when it suspended DeRosa for one game without pay over the incident.

Was the punishment too harsh? Too draconian? Not at all, and here's why: The NBA has zero tolerance for player behavior when it comes to interacting with fans. Players are simply not allowed to physically engage fans in any way for obvious reasons -- the 2004 Palace brawl chief among them.

One of the best things about the NBA is how close the fans are to the action. When media seats used to be courtside in every arena, one of the most enjoyable aspects of sitting there was the verbal sparring between hecklers and players, and oftentimes, hecklers and refs. In many cases, the players and refs respected the hecklers who brought some creative material to their courtside seats.

But under no circumstances can a player lose his cool to the point where he physically engages a heckler -- even from a distance by, say, throwing a ball at somebody. If a player did that, he'd be suspended without a doubt. And the NBA shouldn't have different standards for referees.
DeRosa's suspension speaks to that very need for consistency and was well deserved. Especially in light of the fallout from the Tim Donaghy scandal, what's good for the players has to be good for the refs, too.

Nobody in any job in America takes as much abuse, or has a greater responsibility to maintain his composure, than an NBA ref. It's certainly understandable why DeRosa lost his cool. He's human. But he still had to be punished. And in this case, the punishment fit the crime.

Posted on: December 7, 2009 2:41 pm
Edited on: December 7, 2009 4:04 pm

Karl: NBA should fight back against Donaghy

PHILADELPHIA -- Nuggets coach George Karl sat on the scorer's table at the Wachovia Center Monday morning, perusing the box score I'd printed out and handed to him after his team's shootaround. The game in question -- the Jan. 6, 2007 game between Karl's Nuggets and the Utah Jazz -- didn't evoke any particular memories about the officiating.

"My belief has always been that refereeing in the NBA is an impossible job," Karl said. "You’re never happy."

In light of former ref Tim Donaghy's assertion Sunday night on 60 Minutes that he had conspired with two fellow crew members to officiate then-Denver star Allen Iverson unfairly in a game Donaghy had wagered on, Karl couldn't recall whether the whistle went against his team that night. But the Denver coach has very strong feelings about what the NBA and coaching community should do to combat Donaghy's allegations, which are only beginning to come to light.

The NBA, Karl said, should start fighting back.

"There’s circumstances in life that a lot of people don’t want to go into the battle, the Heat of the kitchen," Karl said. "But maybe it’s necessary right now to go in there."

Karl suggested a town-hall meeting where coaches, general managers, and league officials could address en masse Donaghy's continuing efforts to further undermine the NBA's integrity, which he damaged by betting on games -- many of which he officiated -- and passing information to gamblers. Donaghy pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy charges and was released from prison last month after serving nearly all of his 15-month sentence. The 60 Minutes interview was his first, with more national appearances to come with the release of his book detailing the scandal, "Personal Foul."

"It’s a tough place for me to comment and the league to comment," Karl said. "They should have a town hall meeting, and that one day we can say whatever we want to say and get it over with. Because if it has to linger around for the next six weeks, when the book comes out and when he’s on TV all the time, then we’re going to be responding to questions that the league probably doesn’t want us to respond to. But in this same sense, maybe there should be a forum. Let’s address this one time or two times and then let it go. For me that’s the way I would like it.

"Put 10 guys in the league or 20 guys -- two coaches, two GMs, a couple of guys from the league office, a couple of referees," Karl said. "Sit them down and have some forum of discussion on all the details and subjects so you have enough information so you can write whatever you want to write, rather than every day he tells another story or the book comes out and we’re responding to this over six weeks or eight weeks. I think it’ll become very tedious."

In the 60 Minutes interview, Donaghy said he bet on the Jazz that night because he had conspired with the other two officials -- Bernie Fryer and Gary Zielinski -- to punish Iverson with their whistles. A day earlier, Iverson had been fined $25,000 by the league for criticizing referee Steve Javie, a punishment Donaghy said the referees felt was too lenient. CBSSports.com reviewed the play-by-play and video clips of key plays Iverson was involved in and found that the Nuggets' star didn't get an unfavorable whistle. Iverson committed two fouls and drew nine in the game, attempting more free throws than any other player that night; he made 11 of 12. Also, on Iverson's 12 drives to the basket, he made two driving layups, missed four, lost the ball once, and drew five fouls.

While Karl didn't remember the officiating nuances in the game, he did point out several factors that might've compelled even the most casual gambler to pick the Jazz: Denver played without Carmelo Anthony (suspended) and Marcus Camby (hand injury). J.R. Smith also didn't play, though that was a coaching decision and wouldn't have been known prior to the game.

"There seemed to have been a lot of things that were not good for us in that game," Karl said.

The NBA has declined to make Fryer, Zielinski, or any other league official available for an interview to address Donaghy's latest allegations. Stern issued a statement after the 60 Minutes program aired dismissing Donaghy's assertions and saying that any allegations about officiating improprieties would be forwarded to former federal prosecutor Lawrence Pedowitz for review.
Posted on: October 29, 2009 3:51 pm
Edited on: October 29, 2009 4:48 pm

NBA to investigate Donaghy's latest claims

The NBA will investigate additional allegations by disgraced former referee Tim Donaghy that were scheduled for publication in a book that has been spiked by its publisher.

In the book excerpts, which have been published online, Donaghy offered more details of alleged game manipulation by other referees. The NBA and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York investigated Donaghy's initial claims and did not find anyone else culpable.

Elizabeth Ventura, the NBA's senior vice president of communications, issued the following statement to CBSSports.com and other news outlets:

"In 2008 Mr. Donaghy's allegations were thoroughly investigated by the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's Office. We are reassured that the U.S. Government completed its investigation finding that the only criminal conduct was that of Mr. Donaghy.

"We take any question regarding the integrity of our game extremely seriously. At the time Mr. Donaghy’s crimes came to light, we appointed Lawrence B. Pedowitz, a former Chief of the Criminal Division in the U.S. Attorney's office of the Southern District of New York, to lead a comprehensive independent review of the NBA's officiating program. Mr. Pedowitz's review revealed that the NBA’s core values of neutrality and accountability were not compromised by anyone other than Mr. Donaghy.

"As with all allegations concerning the integrity of our officiating program, these latest assertions by Mr. Donaghy will be turned over to Mr. Pedowitz for a complete review."

Donaghy was sentenced to prison time in 2008 after pleading guilty to federal wire fraud charges. Donaghy was accused of betting on NBA games, including those he worked, and tipping off high-stakes gamblers with inside information.

UPDATE: Robert Nardoza, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office, declined to comment on whether federal authorities were re-opening their investigation. No criminal charges have been filed against any NBA employee other than Donaghy. "We saw the article," Nardoza said, referring to news that Donaghy's publisher had pulled the book amid fears of legal action. "Beyond that, I'm not going to comment."

Donaghy's tell-all, "Blowing the Whistle: The Culture of Fraud in the NBA," was scheduled for publication later this month by Triumph, a division of Random House. Despite news reports to the contrary, NBA spokesman Tim Frank said the league "never threatened a lawsuit or anything else."

In the excerpts, Donaghy cut a wide swath through the ranks of his former colleagues, naming names and offering details on how other officials allegedly manipulated games. Many of the details mirrored those he gave to federal prosecutors as part of his plea negotiation.

According to a person directly involved in the NBA's probe conducted by Pedowitz, all the referees named in the excerpts from Donaghy's manuscript were interviewed during the initial investigation -- in some cases, numerous times. 

“The National Basketball Referees Association is disappointed, but not surprised, with the actions taken by Tim Donaghy," referee spokesman Lloyd Pierson said in a statement. "This continues to be the Tim that we know. He repeatedly attempts to highlight himself in the media, but the 59 NBA referees will continue to officiate games with the utmost integrity and the focus will remain on the 2009-2010 NBA Season.”

The story isn't over; it never is with Donaghy. No doubt he will find another publisher, or self-publish the book, and the storm will gather again.

I don't know how thoroughly Donaghy's claims were investigated at the time, or whether these new allegations will draw the attention of federal authorities. I don't know whether Donaghy is telling the truth or not. I wasn't there; Donaghy himself wasn't present for some of the improprieties he alleges.

What I do know is that this sad chapter in NBA history will have more postscripts.

Category: NBA
Tags: Tim Donaghy
Posted on: August 12, 2009 9:25 pm
Edited on: August 13, 2009 10:38 am

NBA ruled 'victim' of Donaghy scandal

Finally, some good economic news for the NBA.

A federal appeals court on Wednesday rejected a claim by one of Tim Donaghy's co-conspirators, James Battista, and ruled that the NBA can be considered a victim for restitution purposes as a result of the betting scandal that rocked the league to its foundation.

Battista, 43, who conspired with Donaghy to get inside information for gambling purposes, was the only defendant to challenge the order by U.S. District Judge Carol B. Amon that they pay more than $200,000 in restitution to the league. Battista and Donaghy, who refereed NBA games for 13 years before resigning in 2007 amid the gambling probe, are serving 15-month prison terms. A third conspirator, Thomas Martino, was sentenced to one year.

Battista's actions harmed the NBA, which also can be reimbursed for legal fees that resulted from the probe, ruled a three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York. The ruling was reported by the New York Law Journal.

Now, if only the court could do anything about the Bobcats' attendance.

For all intents and purposes, the ruling closes the legal book on one of the ugliest periods in NBA history. Revelations that Donaghy had shared confidential information with gamblers and also wagered on games he officiated rocked the sport and prompted sweeping changes in how referees are screened, trained, and monitored. An investigation commissioned by the NBA and led by former federal prosecutor Lawrence Pedowitz uncovered no evidence that other referees were involved in wagering on games or game-fixing. But the stigma from Donaghy's crimes has lingered, with suspicions and conspiracy theories always percolating whenever there's a controversial call or poorly officiated game.

So while the law books may be closed on the matter of United States v. Timothy Donaghy, the league's battle to vindicate its referees is always and forever a work in progress.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com