Friday, December 11, 2009

Donaghy: The NBA REF Who Bet On Games

I am intrigued with this guy.



Donaghy Sticks With His Story

By Henry Abbott
ESPN.com


At times, former NBA referee Tim Donaghy was vague in an interview Monday about his role in gambling on NBA games.
At times he was combative. At times he was indignant. At all times he was controversial.

Donaghy spoke with ESPN on Monday about allegations in his book, "Personal Foul," which was published last week. He talked about the biases of NBA referees and his own career as a gambler.

He called the NBA more of an entertainment show than a true competition. He said that so many referees were so biased that he could win more than 70 percent of his bets simply by knowing which referees carried which grudges.

And to those who doubt that he won as often as he did, he said: "I can tell you that the FBI was brought into this because of the success of the picks that we were giving."

Donaghy pleaded guilty and served a 15-month sentence on federal wire fraud charges. He was released from prison last month. He was an NBA official for 13 seasons before being snared in an FBI investigation of gambling on NBA games.

Donaghy said he was betting $2,000 or so on games when he first started betting. He said the wins came easy and so did the money.

"It's euphoria," he said. "I'm making picks. I'm the go-to guy. And I'm continually winning at an unbelievable rate."
While keeping his bets small to avoid attention, Donaghy said he was making so much money it was hard to hide it all.

"I'm stuffing it everywhere. Suitcoat pocket, card games, golf games, luxury items for the wife and kids," he said. He estimates he made roughly $100,000 betting on the NBA. Donaghy said his picks were once right 15 out of 16 times, a rate that he and gambling experts agree is nearly impossible with just luck. That streak, he said, "scared the living daylights out of us and almost made us think we should stop, because we were scared that we were going to be detected."

In his book, Donaghy wrote of a number of techniques he used to win at an astounding rate. Among the ways Donaghy said he made money was to bet on big underdogs when Dick Bavetta was one of the referees, because Bavetta liked to keep games close.

"He would instruct other referees to change their style, too," Donaghy said. "He'd say, 'Let's not embarrass anyone.' Get the marginal calls at one end, but not down at the other end of the floor. Not to change the outcome of the game, but to keep anyone from getting embarrassed."

However, an analysis of box scores during the period Donaghy was betting shows that betting on double-digit underdogs in Bavetta games would have resulted in a 17-25 record.

Donaghy insisted that other officials were also predisposed against certain players. He wrote that teams that include Allen Iverson underperform when Steve Javie is one of the referees, yet tend to beat the spread when Joe Crawford is officiating. He wrote that referee Joe Forte also gave a boost to the Memphis Grizzlies when Mike Fratello was the coach.

However, an analysis of final scores and betting lines showed that using that criteria would have resulted in just 35 wins out of 109 games.

"These are some of the criteria that I used," Donaghy said Monday. "I'm not saying I bet every game. ... You can spin the stats any way you want. ... The FBI investigated thoroughly. ... To sit here and say there was a science to how I did this, with the stats you're throwing at me ...

"Based on the information you're using, with your equation, it's not even in the same ballpark," Donaghy said. "There were other factors that came into play. Inside information about injuries. Home game or away game. Home crowd. Many more factors to take into consideration.

"I'm claiming that I picked 15 out of 16, and I'm also claiming that all the facts in this book are true, and it's what I used to pick games."

Donaghy was similarly indignant about a tale from his book involving Charles Barkley. As a player, Donaghy wrote in his book, Barkley stalked into the referees' locker room looking for Donaghy after an on-court dispute between the two in a Los Angeles Clippers-Houston Rockets game. Barkley, Donaghy wrote, then dumped a bucket of Gatorade and ice over the referee.

In a text message to ESPN's Mark Schwarz, Barkley insisted he has no recollection of any such thing. Donaghy said Monday it was true.

"The two refs in the locker room know it happened. I know it happened," he said. "For Charles Barkley to lie like that is troublesome to me. Maybe we both need to sit down and take a lie detector test, and maybe the loser needs to give $500,000 to charity. And I'd like to see what his response would be to that."

Donaghy told Schwarz in a separate interview that he couldn't say for certain that any other NBA officials gambled on NBA games.

He did say that NBA commissioner David Stern "needs to take his head out sand" in terms of Donaghy's accusations.


Henry Abbott writes the TrueHoop NBA blog for ESPN.com.


In a Dec. 7 ESPN.com story, the number of games included in an analysis of games involving referees Dick Bavetta was incorrect. It should have included only 109 games.

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Editorial Reviews of All or Nothing

New York Times--". . . a cartographer of autodegradation . . . Like Dostoyevsky, Allen colorfully evokes the gambling milieu — the chained (mis)fortunes of the players, their vanities and grotesqueries, their quasi-philosophical ruminations on chance. Like Burroughs, he is a dispassionate chronicler of the addict’s daily ritual, neither glorifying nor vilifying the matter at hand."

Florida Book Review--". . . Allen examines the flaming abyss compulsive gambling burns in its victims’ guts, self-esteem and bank accounts, the desperate, myopic immediacy it incites, the self-destructive need it feeds on, the families and relationships it destroys. For with gamblers, it really is all or nothing. Usually nothing. Take it from a reviewer who’s been there. Allen is right on the money here."

Foreword Magazine--"Not shame, not assault, not even murder is enough reason to stop. Allen’s second novel, All or Nothing, is funny, relentless, haunting, and highly readable. P’s inner dialogues illuminate the grubby tragedy of addiction, and his actions speak for the train wreck that is gambling."

Library Journal--"Told without preaching or moralizing, the facts of P's life express volumes on the destructive power of gambling. This is strongly recommended and deserves a wide audience; an excellent choice for book discussion groups."—Lisa Rohrbaugh, East Palestine Memorial P.L., OH

LEXIS-NEXIS--"By day, P drives a school bus in Miami. But his vocation? He's a gambler who craves every opportunity to steal a few hours to play the numbers, the lottery, at the Indian casinos. Allen has a narrative voice as compelling as feeding the slots is to P." Betsy Willeford is a Miami-based freelance book reviewer. November 4, 2007

Publisher’s Weekly--"Allen’s dark and insightful novel depicts narrator P’s sobering descent into his gambling addiction . . . The well-written novel takes the reader on a chaotic ride as P chases, finds and loses fast, easy money. Allen (Churchboys and Other Sinners) reveals how addiction annihilates its victims and shows that winning isn’t always so different from losing."

Kirkus Review--"We gamble to gamble. We play to play. We don't play to win." Right there, P, desperado narrator of this crash-'n'-burn novella, sums up the madness. A black man in Miami, P has graduated from youthful nonchalance (a '79 Buick Electra 225) to married-with-a-kid pseudo-stability, driving a school bus in the shadow of the Biltmore. He lives large enough to afford two wide-screen TVs, but the wife wants more. Or so he rationalizes, as he hits the open-all-night Indian casinos, "controlling" his jones with a daily ATM maximum of $1,000. Low enough to rob the family piggy bank for slot-machine fodder, he sinks yet further, praying that his allergic 11-year-old eat forbidden strawberries—which will send him into a coma, from which he'll emerge with the winning formula for Cash 3 (the kid's supposedly psychic when he's sick). All street smarts and inside skinny, the book gives readers a contact high that zooms to full rush when P scores $160,000 on one lucky machine ("God is the God of Ping-ping," he exults, as the coins flood out). The loot's enough to make the small-timer turn pro, as he heads, flush, to Vegas to cash in. But in Sin City, karmic payback awaits. Swanky hookers, underworld "professors" deeply schooled in sure-fire systems to beat the house, manic trips to the CashMyCheck store for funds to fuel the ferocious need—Allen's brilliant at conveying the hothouse atmosphere of hell-bent gaming. Fun time in the Inferno.

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Bio


Preston L. Allen is the recipient of a State of Florida Individual Artist Fellowship in Literature and the Sonja H. Stone Prize in Fiction for his short story collection Churchboys and Other Sinners (Carolina Wren Press 2003). His works have appeared in numerous publications including The Seattle Review, The Crab Orchard Review, Asili, Drum Voices, and Gulfstream Magazine; and he has been anthologized in Here We Are: An Anthology of South Florida Writers, Brown Sugar: A Collection of Erotic Black Fiction, Miami Noir, and the forthcoming Las Vegas Noir. His fourth novel, All Or Nothing, chronicles the life of a small-time gambler who finally hits it big. Preston Allen teaches English and Creative Writing in Miami, Florida.