There are not many voices contesting the guilt of Tim Donaghy, the NBA referee at the center of the alleged point shaving scandal. Still, I thought the information below was worth posting. I recently stumbled over these statistics that are more damning than anything I’ve seen in print to this point.
“According to RJ Bell, president of the sports betting Web site Pregame.com, Donaghy’s games went above the over/under line 57 percent of the time in the last two seasons after doing so only 44 percent of the time from 2003-05.
Perhaps more damaging, Bell found that in games where the spread moved at least 1 1/2 points, the team getting the big action covered in 10 straight games officiated by Donaghy from January through April of this year. The odds of that, he said, were 1,024 to 1.”
For any readers without a gambling background, this means that the bettors were wagering in large enough sums and large enough numbers to actually skew the odds set by Vegas before the game took place. And for ten straight Donaghy-officiated games, the gamblers changing the odds with their unusually high or numerous bets were correct. That doesn’t happen unless enough bettors have information to which Vegas odd-makers aren’t privvy.
I’m not personally worried about the future of the NBA or the validity of past six decades worth of games. What is concerning is that it appears these clues were out there for a vigilant organization to identify and address. Before reading the above information, it did not seem that the NBA could be culpable for missing the signs of misdoing. There didn’t appear to be any traceable signs except circumstantial evidence such as the number of fouls and technical fouls called.
I suppose that is what David Stern will be addressing in his press conference on Tuesday. Is Donaghy alone in this scandal, or does the evidence indicate wrong-doing by anyone else within the league? Is this a violation that the NBA should have caught as it happened, or was it unpredictable? And most importantly, what steps will the NBA take to monitor the Vegas lines to prevent this sort of criminal act from recurring?
NBA fans have invested our time, money, and emotions into this league. It will be interesting to see what the commissioner has to say to us.