Fact-checking Tim Donaghy

Tim Donaghy is still around, mostly because he’s in financial trouble and is trying to find a way to parlay his history of gambling on (or fixing?) NBA games into some semblance of a post-officiating career. Henry Abbott put together a nice post about Donaghy that seems to debunk much of what he has said.

* Donaghy recalls a conversation he had on the court with Phil Jackson that Jackson tells ESPN’s J.A. Adande never happened.
* He describes relationships between Allen Iverson and referees Steve Javie (who he says hated Iverson) and Joe Crawford (who was allegedly a fan) that biased their calls, and made picking Iverson games easy ways to make money. But those betting rules, in fact, would not have led to winners.
* He told a stirring tale of locker room run-in with Charles Barkley, but Barkley told ESPN’s Mark Schwarz no such thing occurred.
* The three palming violations Donaghy remembers in some detail that were really two.
* He wrote that he won bets relying on Dick Bavetta’s habit of keeping games close, but looking at scores proved betting like that would not win you money.
* He described in some detail the friendship between referee Joe Forte and then-Grizzlies coach Mike Fratello, which inspired him to pick Fratello’s team to beat the spread when Forte reffed. But in that period, Fratello’s teams beat the spread less than half the time.

Even Donaghy’s publisher has severed ties with him.

Generally speaking, I don’t think there is a lot of game-fixing going on. To err is to be human, and NBA referees make a LOT of bad calls. It doesn’t mean they’re doing it on purpose. It’s an impossible job to do perfectly.

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Decade Debate: 10 Biggest Betrayals

To betray is to “be disloyal to one’s country, organization, or ideology by acting in the interests of an enemy.” In the world of sports, a betrayal can refer to any number of things: a beloved star choosing to play for a bitter rival, someone who breaks the public’s trust or even a head coach who lies to his boss about where his loyalties lie. As part of our ongoing Decade Debate series, we chose the ten biggest betrayals of the last ten years. (By the way, we’re focused on sports business related betrayals only, so Tiger Woods, Mike Vick and Roger Clemens are safe. For now.)

10. NHL cancels the 2004-05 season.

After failing for months to come to an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement, the NHL finally canceled the 2004-05 season in February of ’05. The dispute between the owners and the NHLPA covered a number of issues, but the biggest was the owners’ proposal of a salary cap that was tied to league revenues, similar to the NBA salary cap. The NHLPA rejected every offer that included a salary cap and the season had to be canceled. A majority of fans blamed the players due to their out-of-control salaries and unwillingness to accept a cap, which is something that both the NBA and NFL – two very successful leagues — have in different forms. Finally, in the summer of 2005, the players association ratified an agreement (which – surprise, surprise — included a salary cap tied to league revenue) and the lockout ended after 310 days. It marks the only time that a North American professional sports league ever canceled and entire season over a labor dispute. In the end, the NHLPA’s stubbornness was fruitless; the owners got their salary cap and the fans got screwed out of year of hockey. Way to go, guys. – John Paulsen

9. Damon skips Bean Town for the Big Apple.

There are some things in life that are just wrong. One is watching any of the “Twilight” movies alone as a single man. Another is flossing in public. Wearing sandals with a nice pair of slacks is also a terrible idea. Regardless of your opinion of these faux pas, we can all agree that a player jumping ship from the Red Sox to the Yankees (or vice versa) is a huge no-no. Babe Ruth never wanted to leave – he was sold. But guys like former Red Sox manger Ed Barrow (took over as Yankees GM), Wade Boggs, and Johnny Damon – they had a choice. Only one season removed from helping the BoSox capture their first World Series since 1918, Damon signed a four-year, $52 million deal with the Bronx Bombers. The Red Sox Nation cried “foul,” but Damon claimed his former team didn’t push further than their initial four-year, $40 million offer. Nevertheless, the fans felt slighted. Damon had flourished in Boston, racking up career numbers and gaining celebrity status. He hit the memorable leadoff homerun in Game 4 of the 2004 World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals. The blast was all the Red Sox needed to extinguish the curse. (They would go on to win the game 3-0 and the World Series in a sweep.) But he was gone, ready to face the chorus of boos from former fans, and prepped to win a championship in pinstripes four years later. In the end, a t-shirt I saw at a Fenway Park merchant’s booth said it all. A crude picture of Damon adorned the front: “Looks like Jesus, throws like Mary.” – Christopher Glotfelty

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What Tim Donaghy did wrong, in his own words

Ball Don’t Lie published its interview with disgraced NBA referee Tim Donaghy. Here’s what he admits to doing wrong…

Well, I don’t want to say there were certain officials I stayed away from — rather, that there were specific officials that I went after. And it was a situation where I looked for the games that they were on, more or less … I looked to see where certain officials refereed, whether it was a home or away game, what happened the last time they worked a particular team, and who else they were with. And I was able to come to a conclusion of what I felt the betting line should be, and I would look at the newspaper and if it was a difference of four or five points, I would tell people to bet the game.

But did Donaghy manipulate any games to benefit himself or others?

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Publisher of Donaghy tell-all pulls book from shelves because the NBA threatened to sue…

…at least according to Donaghy’s liason to the book publisher. (ESPN)

Pat Berdan, a senior consultant at Executive Prison Consultants and Donaghy’s liaison to the book publisher, told ESPN.com on Wednesday night that the NBA “threatened that they would sue” if the book was published. An NBA spokesman denied the claim, saying the league was aware of the book but had not received or reviewed a copy.

What is the NBA afraid of? Well, you can read excerpts for yourself over at Deadspin. Here’s a taste:

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