Ex-Ref Calls NBA On Flagrant Fouls

Claims league conspired to fix games to favor teams, star players

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Ex-Ref Calls NBA On Flagrant Fouls

JUNE 11--A disgraced former NBA referee claims that league brass tried to manipulate playoff game results and discouraged officials from calling certain fouls against star players, according to a new court filing.

Tim Donaghy, who has pleaded guilty to felony gambling charges, claims that "if the NBA wanted a team to succeed, league officials would inform referees that opposing players were getting away with violations. Referees then would call fouls on certain players, frequently resulting in victory for the opposing team."

The bombshell charges are contained in a June 10 letter addressed to U.S. District Court Judge Carol Amon, who is scheduled to sentence Donaghy next month. A copy of the letter from Donaghy's lawyer, John Lauro, can be found here.

In a bid for leniency, the letter describes information that Donaghy, 41, provided to federal investigators during debriefing sessions last year. Donaghy alleges that a 2002 playoff series was improperly influenced by two referees--referred to as "company men" in the letter--who sought to extend the matchup to seven games. Donaghy claims that the refs ignored fouls in Game 6 and made phantom calls benefiting one of the teams.

While the letter does not identify teams or players, it is clear that Donaghy is referring to the controversial Los Angeles Lakers-Sacramento Kings series, which the Lakers won in seven games (on their way to the NBA championship). At the time, the refereeing in Game 6 was roundly criticized as favoring the Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal-led Lakers.

Donaghy also reportedly told investigators of other assorted "improper interactions and relationships between referees and other league employees, such as players, coaches and management," according to the letter. (4 pages)