Tom Knott: NBA’s wrongs make a compelling write

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Donaghy adds: “As part of our ongoing training and game preparation, NBA referees regularly receive game-action videotape from the league office. Over the years, I have reviewed many recorded hours of video involving Raja Bell. The footage I analyzed usually illustrated fouls being called against Bell, rarely for him. The message was subtle but clear - call fouls against the star-stopper because he’s hurting the game.”

Donaghy also accuses the league office of wanting long playoff series, especially if a big-market team is involved.

He quotes Bavetta as saying he is the NBA’s “go-to guy” if a certain outcome is sought.

Bavetta, of course, was a member of the three-man crew that officiated the infamous Lakers-Kings Game 6 in 2002, in which the Lakers shot 40 free throws to the Kings’ 25.

Donaghy writes how the referees would make tiny wagers before a game - the first one to issue a technical foul to one of the NBA’s well-known troublemakers would be excused from tipping the ball boy.

Another wager, Donaghy writes, was dubbed the “first foul of the game” and resulted in referees tucking away their whistles at the start of a game until someone had no choice but to call an obvious foul and lose the bet.

These adolescentlike games obfuscate the most troubling aspects of Donaghy’s book.

To those who doubt him, the league office included, Donaghy is merely repeating observations that have been checked out by the FBI. And it was his cooperation with investigators that spared him from a longer prison sentence.

That is another compelling reason to rethink the NBA’s see-no-evil position with its referees.

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