Scandals are commonplace in sports and happen here and there, but very few are as huge as the one I am about to talk about. This article will take a look at the massive betting scandal that took place in the NBA in 2007. I will first take a look at the scandal itself and then look at the man alleged to have orchestrated it all.
The story of this entire scandal first broke when the New York Post was reporting that the FBI was investigating allegations that a referee had bet on games and not only that, but used his knowledge and power to influence the game to end in his favour. As other news and media outlets began to pick up the story, it was revealed that the guilty party was Tim Donaghy. Donaghy had refereed over 750 regular season games and 20 playoff games in his career. The reports also indicated that he had been betting on NBA games he was refereeing himself since 2005 and also claimed that he had ties and connections to organized crime.
This obviously was an extremely serious and news making scandal and then-NBA commissioner David Stern addressed the media the day after the story just broke. There he said that no effort would be spared in this investigation to both bring justice to Donaghy, and also to prevent something like this ever happening again. He also called it the most serious and worst situation he had ever seen. Throughout other interviews and reports it was revealed that Donaghy had helped a former classmate and his boss win some money based on betting tips from Donaghy, which is obviously a huge no-no for referees. In total, it was revealed that Donaghy received about $30,000 to pass on information to bookies, such as player condition, and player/ref relationships. He was eventually sentenced to 15 months in prison for his role in the scandal.
In an interesting event, sport gambling experts were actually able to pinpoint when and which games he actually had bet on based on the total points scored. The teams involved in his games scored more than the total 57% of the time, while that number was at 44% the two previous years. The experts said no way that this could happen without some kind of outside factor being present.
The reaction to this information was widespread and many media members and writers claimed that the NBA’s popularity and reputation would be severely tarnished by news of this scandal breaking. And while it did for a while, people seem to have all but forgotten about this event and the NBA has put various rules in place that prevent refs from gambling and that means this will hopefully never happen again. More background checks were also carried out on refs and the annoucment of which refs would be in charge of which game now wouldn’t occur until just over an hour before tip off, so that the gamblers would reduce the value to gamblers.