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News » Donaghy's revelations don't come as a shock

Donaghy's revelations don't come as a shock

Donaghy's revelations don't come as a shockWith the NBA shot clock reset to "60 Minutes," the subsequent violations were fired up at a steady tempo.

The designated arbiter was Tim Donaghy, the "rogue" referee whose personal nosedive was escorted by a near-15-month prison visit, an obligatory literary stab that bounced from Random House to a subsidy publisher and Sunday night's public confession on CBS. Post-interview talking points are plentiful but — in this forum — should be limited to the specific interests of those who follow the NBA.

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The "60 Minutes" piece included Donaghy's assertion that an alleged threat to a rank-and-file ref by Allen Iverson inspired other referees to give A.I. the business. After a game that featured referees targeting A.I. for phantom calls, an unnamed supervisor reportedly was amused by the display and said Iverson had gotten the message.

A video-supported complaint submitted to the league by the Los Angeles Lakers was credited with a supposed mandate for leniency toward Kobe in future games. The Iverson anecdote doesn't surprise me. He's been a polarizing force for fans, reporters, coaches and players for as long as he's been in the league. In a perfect world, the referees would be exempt from feeling one way or another regarding Iverson.

But while I'm sometimes amused by Stern's seeming self-importance, I don't believe he or his co-workers huddle up and figure out ways to twist the outcomes of NBA action to the league's benefit.

The San Antonio Spurs have won too many NBA titles for the league to be imposing its marketing will upon the results. Or maybe the supposed cheating wasn't competent enough to stop the Spurs.

Anyway, I believe employees in the league office root for certain outcomes that would be to the league's benefit, but I don't see credible evidence that the NBA is where fixing happens.

I do believe the league may employ some professionally weak whistle blowers who harpoon the efforts of coaches, players and owners when the opportunity presents itself. I've seen this at the high school level for years, and it's a lot less frequent at the college level.

Referees with agendas should be weeded out at every level, but union support (in the NBA) and plausible deniability make it tricky to cast out all the bad apples and field an uncompromising team of referees.

The inability to achieve completely objective officiating doesn't make this failure easy to justify. It obviously doesn't make it right. It also doesn't make it NBA protocol. It just makes it personal.

And as long as people are employed to decide between block-charge or traveling and a legal dribble, referees will be fallible.

It just may be a while until we see another as fallible as Tim Donaghy.

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Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: December 7, 2009


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