Ref officially off deep end

Latest interview is laughable, as is FBI's pursuit of crooked Donaghy

December 13, 2009|By Mark Heisler On the NBA Mark Heisler Inside the

This just in: Tim Donaghy, who bet on games while working with gamblers, insists he didn't fix any.

That's the best one since "I never inhaled."

In all of Donaghy's attempts to shift the blame to others, get a lighter sentence or sell his book, the things he said in his interview with "60 Minutes" are the most incredible yet.

By comparison, his charges that fellow referees were biased or crooked were at least imaginable - although no one has corroborated a single specific, including the gamblers Donaghy worked with.

Most amazing, or dismaying, was Bob Simon's acceptance of Donaghy's claim that the FBI exonerated him of cheating.

"That's right," Simons trumpets, "a 29-year FBI veteran, Special Agent Philip Scala, led the investigation of Donaghy. He told us Donaghy convinced him."

Scala said Donaghy assured them he could pick 80 percent winners "just knowing what I knew an hour before the game" and that videos of the games he officiated showed, "There was never something outlandish where you could see he called a foul or he omitted a foul because he wanted to see a certain team win."

Where you could see?

Whether this story is over or not, it's scary for the NBA because everyone knows how easily a crooked referee could influence the score - except Scala and the gang who couldn't catch Donaghy doing anything crazy on video, which was not the same as exonerating him.

Forget the NBA. This is the FBI, which is supposed to protect us from bad guys?

Coast to coast: CBS Sportsline's Ken Berger reported league documents show gate receipts down 7.4 percent and attendance down 3.7 percent. As a league spokesman suggested, it's actually a smaller loss than the NBA projected before the season, when it warned the $57.7 million salary cap could shrink 15 percent to $50 million. With half-empty lower bowls common, it also suggests how much teams pad attendance. The Warriors and Clippers, who claim attendance has dropped only 5 percent and 7 percent, respectively, are both down more than 20 percent in gate receipts, according to CBS Sports' documents. ...

There have been goofier teams than the Magic but few who were good at the same time Their young players keep helping Stan Van Gundy coach. Going for their eighth road win in a row in Utah, Rashard Lewis refused to go in at the end of the first half, saying Ryan Anderson was going well. Said Lewis of his coach after the Jazz outscored them by 17 in the second half to win: "He wasn't [angry] at the time, but he was [angry] when they started making a run. You've got to point the finger at something. If that's what you've got to point it at, hey, I don't give a damn."

They said it: Heat coach Eric Spoelstra to the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel on a Kobe Bryant game-winning 3-pointer: "As soon as I got on the plane, I told Dan Craig, our video guy who sits right across from me, 'Don't give me my computer. I don't want to look at it. I don't want to talk about it.' As soon as we were about to take off, I said, 'All right, set it up.' I looked at it, yeah, several times. It was a heck of a play." ...

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, on the latest Donaghy controversy: "For anybody to think [the NBA] is not on the up-and-up is really offensive. If I thought it wasn't on the up-and-up and I didn't have any control over outcomes, I wouldn't be doing it. It would be kind of a waste of time." ...

TNT's John Thompson, who coached Allen Iverson at Georgetown, asking how the perception he's whining started: "You're not a crybaby. I know that from the child abuse I gave you."

The Heat's Dwyane Wade, on being zinged for coasting for part of a game by ESPN's Jeff Van Gundy: "They've said enough good things about me to erase any negative that they could say, so I don't necessarily worry about it."

mheisler@tribune.com

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