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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on July 23, 2007 12:30 AM. The previous post in this blog was A linchpin too tall. The next post in this blog is 34 candles. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Monday, July 23, 2007

Donaghy and the Blazers

Pro basketball fans all over the country are now looking back to see how their favorite teams fared in games refereed by Tim Donaghy, who's resigned from NBA officiating while under investigation for allegedly gambling on, and fixing, games. The most significant of his games -- and the most questionable -- was last season's crucial Game 3 in the playoff series between the Spurs and the Suns. It was one of the most bizarre refereeing jobs ever seen, and now perhaps it's not so hard to understand why.

So what about the Blazers? Donaghy officiated three of their regular season games last year -- two in Portland and one on the road. The Blazers were 0-3 in those games, and so the home team was 1-2. The favorite won all three games, beating the spread two out of three times. The home team beat the spread in the one game that it won; the visiting team was 1-1 against the spread. In the over-and-under betting (where the refs can really have an influence), it was 2 over to 1 under.

The first game, my daughter and I attended. It was at the Rose Garden, November 12 against the Dallas Mavericks. Dallas was favored to win by 6, and in fact won by 7. The over-and-under point for the game (gamblers bet on whether the total points scored in the game will be more or less than that amount) was 188; the final score totaled 199 (over). There were 48 personal fouls and 2 technical fouls called.

The second game was again in Portland, with the Blazers facing the Orlando Magic on December 1. Orlando was favored to win by 4; it won by 2. The over-and-under was 189; the final score, 180 (under). There were 41 personal fouls called.

The third meeting was January 29 in Oklahoma City, the Blazers visiting the Hornets. The "home" team was favored by 5.5; it won by 12. The over-under was 179; the final score, 194 (over). There were 39 personal fouls called.

Not much of a pattern emerging anywhere there, that I can see. But hey, who knows which other referees we might be looking up once the depth of the scandal is revealed?

Comments (23)

I gottta admit, I used to think the NBA throwing games one way or the other was a little bit outre, but maybe I'm wrong. I still think players would have more impact than a ref, but the ref can make a diff.

Now if the NBA can just make LA and NY winning franchises to get the ratings up . . . that would take a lotta string-pulling.

It makes sense that the best way to control the fix was to call lots of fouls and target the over. That way, either team can stink up the joint, injuries can happen, you can call tons of fouls on both teams, etc...and you still make your mob buddies happy.

On Cowherd's show this morning he mentioned that the attorney who Donaghy hired to represent him is known for defending "whistle blowers".

He stated that this begs the question is there more to this than just what Donaghy is alleged to have done.

From Bill Simmons:

"Follow-up note: A few hours after this column was posted on Sunday morning, an NBA fan posted "highlights" from Game 3 on YouTube that reveal Donaghy making a number of questionable calls during that Spurs-Suns game, including the three-seconds-too-late call on Ginobili that I mentioned in my column (and two months ago as well).

After the call is made, play-by-play announcer Mike Breen calls it a "late whistle" three different times, then a replay of the play shows that there was no contact, followed by Breen saying "doesn't look like there was much there" and partner Jon Barry adding, "I don't know what he saw!""

The Phoenix Suns should sue the NBA for the right to replay game #3.

Just put an asterisk next to the Spurs' title. What sport doesn't have asterisks any more?

There goes any chance of an NBA team ever moving to Vegas.

I'd trade the Blazers for Elton John, Prince, and "Ka."

I'd trade the Blazers for Elton John, Prince, and "Ka."

Any chance we can throw in a couple of Smart Cars and bring back "Love" instead?

Potter for Wayne Newton...

Potter for Oscar Goodman.

THAT would be a deal.

Game 3 Spurs-Suns: Over-under was 200. Final score was 209 (over). 57 points in the 4th, after only 44 in the 3rd.

You see a lot of calls in the NBA, "Hey -- he didn't even touch him." But he's [under suspicion] because they will go back and watch every game he officiated, know the spread, know the totals, they'll watch the fourth quarter and they'll know exactly what games he [allegedly] fixed. One hundred percent, no questions asked, they'll know exactly.

They just have to look at the fourth quarter. That's where you'd be able to tell. I'm telling you -- it would have to be the total, not the winners or losers. You can't dictate a side, especially in the NBA. He couldn't take that chance. If someone gets injured or doesn't show up or is having a terrible night or whatever, you can't do it. But manipulating the total you can control from the very tip. If you need an over, a referee can dictate a high- or low-scoring game just by how he's calling it. It's going to come out.

I thought Cowherd brought up an interesting point this morning with regard to technicals. Basketball is the only sport where the referee can affect the score with his own actions. In this case, via the technical foul. And guess who led the league in technicals last season?

Referee Tim Donaghy, 40, and his crew led the NBA in calling technical fouls; ranked fourth in blowing personal fouls; was third in ordering free-throws, and stood at second for fouling-out players for the 2006-2007 season, according to Stats LLC, a sports-statistics company.

Mmmmm....whistles. No better way to pad the score than stop the clock and put guys on the line.

Getting the teams in the penalty as early as possible also really helps rack up the points. It will be interesting to see at what times in his games Donaghy and his pals got teams into the penalty.

This is going to be worse for the league than a strike -- way worse. Stern's done within a year.

Here's a fan-edited series of clips documenting all the horrible calls in that Spurs-Suns game 3, officiated, of course, by our guy Donaghy. Some of the calls, though, make me wonder about Stern's assertion that Donaghy was a lone wolf. There were two other refs in that game, and some of them made calls just as bad as Donaghy.

Stern's done within a year.

I'm still not convinced of that. I go back and forth. Owners are gonna have to get worked up enough to demand it. But he's definitely gonna have to make some significant changes if he wants the league to survive this.

There is going to have to be a scapegoat for this somewhere in the league office.

There is going to have to be a scapegoat for this somewhere in the league office.

There are reports today that the NBA was aware of his gambling problem, had ordered him to stop betting (on pro football), and had dispatched investigators to interview his neighbors and close associates. Yet they still allowed him to ref, including in the playoffs. If those allegations are true, yeah, Stern is done.

I'm also not sure about Stern being done. The NBA has the biggest problemo ever on its hands now, and it's gonna take more than a scapegoat to somehow get over it. I think the owners may feel more comfortable with Stern trying to fix the mess than someone they trust less.

He'll get some time to "fix" it (oops), but not more than one season. After a year of cheating ref talk constantly hanging over the league like a dark cloud, he'll fall on his sword.

If he knew about the Donaghy investigation before May and let the guy ref the playoffs anyway, Stern will be gone much sooner.

Oh yeah, he's complete toast if he knew about the investigation before the playoffs.

I suppose I'm dreaming that the case will unearth which specific games he fixed. It seems like the Suns would have a primo lawsuit if it was indeed, Game 3.


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