The controversial ending of Monday night’s game between the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder, complete with public acknowledgement of blatant missed calls over the final 13.5 seconds, has invited unfounded speculation about a ‘fix” being in.
Tim Donaghy was an NBA referee for 13 seasons until an FBI investigation showed he had bet on games he refereed. Donaghy served 15 months in prison after pleading guilty to two charges attached to the case, and he offered some supposed insight into NBA referees during an appearance on ‘The Herd’ with Colin Cowherd on Wednesday.
When Cowherd asked what percentage of NBA referees gamble, Donaghy answered “100 percent” without hesitation. Cowherd repeated the number, which prompted Donaghty to elaborate.
“Absolutely (it’s 100 percent). When I was there, (and) David Stern did his investigation, he said ‘Legal gambling will cost you your job, illegal gambling will cost you your freedom’. Then they did an investigation and found out that 58 out of the 60 referees gambled in some way, shape or form. And they changed the rules. Now basically they’re allowed to gamble.”
When asked if he believes any referees gamble on the NBA, Donaghy offered this response.
“No, I can’t say that I know for a fact. But I do think when you’re at a party and you’re discussing the NBA, you’re always going to have that guy that comes up to you and is going to try and come up to you and pump you for information on, you know, ‘who is going to win a series,’ or ‘who, the league wants to crack down in certain situations.’ There’s always information that that gambler wants to extract from that official.”
It’s big step from NBA referees gambling to compromising games they officiate due to gambling concerns. While Donaghy did not suggest that clearly, he implied it based on his own misdeeds. A proven dirty referee is hardly an authority on NBA referees gambling, or the integrity of the group as a whole. But Donaghy found a platform for his assertions with Cowherd, which is not really a surprise.