Maybe those looks of shock on NBA players faces and outburts after the ref's whistle aren't purely driven by ego after all.
If disgraced referee Tim Donaghy is to be believed, the players may be justified in their outrage -- and all fans should be depressed.
In explosive excerpts published from a now canceled tell-all book, Donaghy makes damning accusations against his fellow game officials and the NBA as a whole. The alleged antics ranged from personal bets the refs made amongst themselves for entertainment to incredible game manipulation that he says was ordered by the NBA and implemented by the league's most recognizable referees.
The excerpts were posted on Deadspin.com and include very long and detailed accounts of how Donaghy participated and witnessed referees target players they had personal problems with, make favorable calls for coaches they befriended, bet money on who can hold out the longest before calling a foul, accept gifts for making decisions that benefited one team over another and most shocking: call games in order to manipulate the result to the NBA's liking.
That's right. The NBA likes play-off series that go down to the wire in a big media market and the NBA likes having star players on the floor and not on the bench. It also dislikes defensive players who shut down big players and instructs refs to call fouls and infractions that punish good defense at the expense of offense, according to Donaghy.
While it's easy to dismiss Donaghy's claims as lies or exaggeration -- he did after all cheat by betting on games he officiated -- the accounts are detailed and name names and have apparently caught the attention of the NBA which is investigating the claims, according to the Associated Press.
Shortly after Donaghy was indicted on conspiracy charges, the NBA announced an investigation had found that Donaghy was the only ref involved in criminal activity. On Thursday, current referees said they were disappointed but not surprised by Donaghy's claims.
Since he was caught, Donaghy repeatedly refused to speak publicly, saying he had a lot of dirt and when the time comes he will air it out. Even though his book, tentatively titled "Blowing the Whistle," will not be published, the accusations -- true or not -- have done enough damage and it behooves any fan to think: was I played?