The Other Shoe Set to Drop in Donaghy CaseAccording to the Philadelphia Daily News, "Disgraced NBA referee Tim Donaghy and two Delaware County men who have been linked to him in a gambling probe are expected to turn themselves in Wednesday morning at federal court in Brooklyn, N.Y." Donaghy is expected to plead guilty to betting on NBA games that he officiated; he may also admit to other related charges. The Daily News reports that the other two men are James "Baa Baa" Battista and Tommy Martino. Donaghy, Battista and Martino all attended the same high school in the early 1980s. Battista and five other people were prosecuted in 1998 for criminal conspiracy and bookmaking.
This is the moment of truth for the NBA--or at least it is the beginning of the moment of truth, since the likelihood is that the "moment" will be dragged out over a period of time. Once Donaghy officially enters his plea more information will come out regarding what exactly he did and how he managed to evade detection by the NBA; after all, published reports indicate that his misconduct was discovered by the FBI as a result of wire taps that they used to investigate the Gambino crime family--it does not appear that the NBA had any idea that Donagy was doing something wrong when he officiated games. All of the gory details will not be revealed at once but at a minimum we will start to get at least a rough outline of what specifically Donaghy did. It will be interesting to see how the NBA reacts to these developments, both from a public relations standpoint and from the standpoint of taking action to minimize the chance that something like this ever happens again.
There also is still a possibility that the NBA's nightmare scenario will unfold and that Donaghy will implicate other NBA employees. Hopefully, Commissioner David Stern is right when he suggests that Donaghy was a "rogue criminal" acting alone. Once Donaghy has his day in court, the NBA must do the best that it can to completely inform the public exactly what happened, how it happened and what will be done so that it never happens again. There can no longer be any rhetoric about how great the NBA's referees are--even though they are better than their counterparts in the NFL and MLB--nor can the NBA simply brush this off as the actions of one lone offender; even if that is the case, the NBA must prove that it is taking vigorous steps to prevent other "rogues" from trying to do the same thing. We have seen many examples of how people and organizations are often brought down not so much by their misconduct as by their inept attempts to cover things up afterwards. Once David Stern knows which games were involved, he needs to have another press conference and lay everything out there, make whatever apologies are necessary to the teams/fans involved (if the outcomes of games were altered) and pledge to clean this mess up. Under no circumstances can he do the equivalent of sticking his hands in his pockets and making the face that Bud Selig made when Barry Bonds tied Hank Aaron's home run record.
posted by David Friedman @ 5:35 AM