Stern Must Rebuttal Whistle Blower Ref Donaghy

July 25, 2008 by Tom Ferda 

Tom is an NBA writer whose work has been published in the New York Daily News, Washington Times, Detroit Free Press and 360 Hawks Magazine. Contact Tom at tom@tomferda.com

David Stern is getting more predictable by the interview. When he gets in front of the microphone, he is sounding like an old, warped vinyl-repeating the same few lines over and over again.

When questioned about NBA officiating and conspiracy theories, Stern is quick to give yet another rundown of referee Tim Donaghy’s criminal record, his bad character traits and how he is a convicted felon awaiting sentencing.

NBA Criminal Referee

Stern’s strategy of repeating the same phrases throughout an interview may have worked initially but now it is making him look like a back-peddling politician who has nothing better to say.

Any sports fan not living in a closet knows about the bad deeds Donaghy has committed, we certainly do not need to hear them repeated by Stern. What we do need to hear is an aggressive fact-filled rebuttal to Donaghy’s accusations of the league extending series and referees calling games in favor of certain teams and players.

The NBA’s latest move in retaliation to Donaghy’s accusations is requesting he return approximately 1.4 million dollars to the league to cover portions of Donaghy’s salary and various other expenses including league provided tennis shoes.

It’s hard to argue with this latest move by Stern and the NBA but hitting Donaghy in the pocketbook is no solution to the bigger issue at hand. Stern must rebuttal the allegations head-on before they evolve into a long-term headache.

Relying on deflecting conspiracy questions back to how evil and vindictive Donaghy is only buys time. Stern should consider a quick closure to this massive thorn in his side before another grudge-holding politician like Senator Arlen Specter or George Mitchell comes out of the woodwork.

That Congressman may be Bobby Rush of Illinois who in 2007 requested a meeting with Stern to discuss the Donaghy issue. Rush also indicated in a letter to Stern, that he may call a hearing and referred to the matter as “one of the most damaging scandals in the history of American sports.”

With the most recent formal accusations coming forth from Donaghy and his attorney, Congressman Ross’ interest in this case may be rekindled.

Concerned Commissioner Stern

If Congressman Ross gets involved as Senator Mitchell did with the MLB steroids issue, Stern and his referees may have the challenge of addressing the court’s video evidence while under oath.

Donaghy included what appears to be the 2002 Kings/Lakers playoff Game 6 in his letter to the court. If the court views and investigates that game, they will likely take the rest of the accusations seriously.

Watching the tapes of that game it’s obvious something was terribly wrong with the officiating. The calls were blatantly one-sided with the Lakers taking 27 free throws in the 4th quarter and going on to win the game. The referees performance was questionable enough to motivate Ralph Nadar to ask for an investigation.

What motivates the media to aggressively pursue the truth in this matter is the fact that a man in Donaghy’s position has nothing to gain, except guaranteed extra years behind bars, if he lies directly to the people who convicted him. This isn’t a convict sitting in jail complaining to his cellmate. These accusations were formally presented in writing to the court.

It makes no sense whatsoever for Donaghy to lie at this stage of the game so there must be at least a little bit of truth to his allegations. The accusations are also supported by what investigators may view as incriminating video tapes. . . and there lies the problem for Stern and the league.

It’s hard to imagine Commissioner Stern or any other exec from the NBA would ever give a “direct order” to referees to “fix” a game or extend a series. That just did not happen! These execs would destroy their personal lives if they did such a deed and they are much too intelligent for that.

Las Vegas places these games on the board with point spreads every day so imagine the criminal consequences the league would face if it were proven they purposely altered the outcomes of games . . . it is clearly illegal and would justify sharing a cell with Donaghy.

However, there is nothing illegal about informal conversation in casual atmospheres between NBA execs and some of the “company men” referees regarding the game of basketball, playoff series and ratings.

Could casual conversations between David Stern, NBA execs and referees about Game 7 ratings have led to referees calling one-sided games like the Kings/Lakers Game 6?

Donaghy mentions meetings did take place so some sort of meeting probably did. He mentions discussions took place and they probably did but not as secretive as a hard-core conspiracy theorist would like to think. And again, Donaghy has too much to lose if he lies.

Donaghy is a desperate man who is trying to take a few more people with him and although his statements may only have some underlying truth to them, they do not seem to have the most important elements . . . intent and proof.

Even if informal meetings/conversations did take place prior to some of the games in question, as Donaghy suggests, intent could never be proven unless specific dialogue occurred and criminal intent were proven and that is very hard to imagine.

Stern needs to address this issue head-on and nip it! MLB assumed their steroid issue would magically go away only to see it land in front of Congress tarnishing the league.

If Stern decides to ignore this and let it play out on it’s own, he may regret it later on. There are better ways to spend your summer off than having a date with Congressman Rush.

Contact Tom via email: tom@tomferda.com