Deadspin.com posted some very candid and downright stunning excerpts from the book, “Blowing The Whistle”…penned by fallen NBA referee Tim Donahey. There are a variety of stunning, ugly, and crippling allegations in the book…one of which includes our Sacramento Kings and the famed 2002 Western Conference Finals with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Studying under Dick Bavetta for 13 years was like pursuing a graduate degree in advanced game manipulation. He knew how to marshal the tempo and tone of a game better than any referee in the league, by far. He also knew how to take subtle-and not so subtle-cues from the NBA front office and extend a playoff series or, worse yet, change the complexion of that series.
The 2002 Western Conference Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Sacramento Kings presents a stunning example of game and series manipulation at its ugliest. As the teams prepared for Game 6 at the Staples Center, Sacramento had a 3–2 lead in the series. The referees assigned to work Game 6 were Dick Bavetta, Bob Delaney, and Ted Bernhardt. As soon as the referees for the game were chosen, the rest of us knew immediately that there would be a Game 7. A prolonged series was good for the league, good for the networks, and good for the game. Oh, and one more thing: it was great for the big-market, star-studded Los Angeles Lakers.
In the pregame meeting prior to Game 6, the league office sent down word that certain calls-calls that would have benefitted the Lakers — were being missed by the referees. This was the type of not-so-subtle information that I and other referees were left to interpret. After receiving the dispatch, Bavetta openly talked about the fact that the league wanted a Game 7.
“If we give the benefit of the calls to the team that’s down in the series, nobody’s going to complain. The series will be even at three apiece, and then the better team can win Game 7,” Bavetta stated.
As history shows, Sacramento lost Game 6 in a wild come-from-behind thriller that saw the Lakers repeatedly sent to the foul line by the referees. For other NBA referees watching the game on television, it was a shameful performance by Bavetta’s crew, one of the most poorly officiated games of all time.
Now really…we’re not dealing with the Easter Bunny here. This is the same guy that rigged games…went to prison…and dealt with shady mob bosses in his spare time. So how honest is his word?
Honestly – I’m not sure what to believe.
Of all the leagues, the NBA has dealt with the most scruntany when its come to cheating alleigations and with good reason too as there are things that simply don’t add up, and haven’t over the years….mostly since Stern took over.
It certainly would be extremely difficult for the NBA to get away with such a crime, especially with them being one serious whistle blower away from disaster. But still…the question lingers…
How truthful is Donahey being?
For the full excerpts that touch on a variety of issues, players, and teams….click here.