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Old 08-20-2007, 02:55 PM   #1
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Default Rogue Or Regular? A Problem If Donaghy 'Fit In'

Rogue Or Regular?

A Problem If Donaghy 'Fit In'
By Mike Fisher --

Turns out, Tim Donaghy has a dog. And two adorable daughters. Look at the photo; who snapped this shot, Grant Wood? This Donaghy fella turns out to be Cliff Huxtable without a sweater, Ward Cleaver with a whistle, if you believe his front-yard plea for empathy. He’s really very much like all the other people who referee NBA games. … and boy, is that a problem.

Chancellor Stern’s insistence that Donaghy is a “an isolated rogue criminal,’’ that he’s the acted-alone basketball version of Lee Harvey Oswald, never did ring true. (Nor did Stern’s insistence a few months ago that questions about any sort of fix were ridiculous.) Gambling in pro sports was never an issue to be haughtily dismissed. And while I remain troubled because I believe Stern and other NBA powers knew long ago that something was fishy in the way the officials do their business, I’m nothing short of embarrassed for the league now that Donaghy’s testimony in federal court this week included a promise to blow the whistle on as many as 20 NBA officials who allegedly also involve themselves in gambling.

Are you outraged? Or just guffawing at the pomposity of Stern, the incompetence of his management team, and the ethical void that might be a staple in his refereeing department?

Donaghy seems to be something just as dangerous as “dirty.’’ He also seems to be stupid, along with arrogant and short-tempered. So he will tattle on some of his refereeing cohorts – we don’t know if a bunch of the zebras bet on poker or bet on Fantasy Football or, maybe, were involved in some of his NBA-related action – and in the end, we will be left pondering the idea that he was actually BETTER than most of the other refs, was receiving annual raises for SUPERIOR performance, was doing nothing in his job or in his life that raised any sort of red flag with his bosses.

Meaning. … Either a) his bosses are unfocused morons or b) Donaghy is the norm. And the norm is arrogant and short-tempered and stupid. And maybe dirty.

Think about this: The more information that comes out on Donaghy, the more we understand that the NBA hierarchy viewed him as “typical.’’ Stern himself has suggested that Donaghy’s nasty habits weren’t enough to cause him to stand out from the rank-and-file of the others in his profession. Stern says that as a form of self-defense; see no evil, and all that.

But if Tim Donaghy was “just one of the guys,’’ “normal,’’ and “considered more than competent,’’ what does that say about the rank-and-file? What does it say about Stern? What does it say about the NBA’s competence and credibility?

One more thing about Donaghy’s plea-bargain testimony: The information he relayed to his gambler buddies included notes on “certain referees’ relationships with certain players and coaches.’’ Consider the many layers here: Refs have “good’’ or “bad’’ relationships with the principles? And Donaghy and the gambling world thinks that information important enough to put money on? Forget the fix for a moment. …If referees have built-in, accepted and acknowledged biases that an insider like Donaghy considers game-changing, isn’t that corruption enough?

If Stern says the NBA will "continue with our ongoing and thorough review of the league's officiating program to ensure that the best possible policies and procedures are in place to protect the integrity of our game." Sorry, Chancellor Stern, but “continuing’’ is not good enough. “Continuing’’ makes it sound as if the present policies mirror the previous policies. “Continuing’’ downplays the problems that exists with the NBA’s referees. … problems that are not lessened, but rather worsened, by the revelation that Tim Donaghy – doting father and lover of dogs – blends in seamlessly with many of his peers.

I think this asks some very tough questions that until now I have not seen any others in the media ask. Its true though. If this guy was considered one of the better refs in the rankings, if there were no questions about him, if he was as normal as the next guy, what does that say about the system Stern was so very proud of? What does that say about his arrogant stance that betting in basketball was a ridiculous proposition? What does that say about his competency as Commish?

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