NBA can bet that this, too, will pass

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Donaghy was a product of an environment that could give a person a distorted sense of self.

It is the kind of environment that could lead a person to peddle his first-class air fare and fly coach instead, while pocketing the difference and not reporting the income to the IRS, a scandal involving several referees in the late ‘90s.

However much in-house scrutiny NBA referees receive — and it is said to be considerable — the system functions outside the public domain, as if it is a closed society cloaked in secrecy.

Yet referees routinely have a more significant impact on the game than the players. They can cite a team’s star player for two early fouls that send him to the bench. They can make calls that lead to a compelling free throw discrepancy. And they can be consistently inconsistent.

That is why Donaghy, if the reports are shown to be true, could go about his dealings with hardly a question.

He did not stick out from his brethren, because all too many of them embrace the incomprehensible.

The quality of NBA officiating is unexplainably mysterious too much of the time, and everyone loses because of it: the players, coaches, teams and fans.

That is the principal issue before Stern and the NBA.

The Donaghy mess will pass, just as the point-shaving scandals of yesteryear in college basketball have passed.

What Stern truly needs to address is the lackluster officiating that prompts the conspiracy theorists to see a Donaghy on the floor of every NBA game.

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