If Sunday's segment is any indication, Donaghy's book has a repeat of his old allegations -- player favoritism, league biases -- along with some new examples.
One particular anecdote, which is recounted by Donaghy roughly midway through the clip below, tells of the time Allen Iverson, then with the Nuggets, drew the ire of the entire referee corps by threatening an official.
The league fined Iverson $25,000, but officials, Donaghy says, didn't think that was enough of a punishment. So they doled out their own sentence, and explicitly conspired before a Jazz-Nuggets game to give A.I. some tough love with the whistle.
Donaghy, of course, had bet on the game. And his bet was a winner, as the Nuggets lost amid serious Iverson frustration with the officials. Donaghy provides another example to show he didn't make calls to influence games -- he cites tossing Gregg Popovich out of a game in which Donaghy had bet on the Spurs as one such instance. But if the Iverson bet isn't a blatantly explicit example of making calls which affect the results of a game he bet on in a positive way, I don't know what is.
Interestingly enough, one of the other refs working that January 6, 2007, game cited in the report, Bernie Fryer, is now the NBA's director of officials. The NBA isn't commenting directly on specific issues related to the 60 Minutes report. But considering these allegations from Donaghy regarding an incident that happened 27-1/2 years into a 28-year refereeing career, Fryer has some explaining to do.
The Pollyannas can convince themselves having someone like Fryer, who knows all this inside dirt about the way the ref fraternity works, in a leadership role will help clean up the game. Or, they can believe Donaghy invented this Iverson issue wholesale. (That's a tough but plausible case to make. The story is completely believable, even when you account for the source.)
But more skeptical NBA fans, myself included, have to think the league is actually OK with behavior alleged in the Iverson case. In the Pedowitz report, which resulted from the Donaghy investigation, Fryer denied that there's any referee bias toward players. (You can find the Pedowitz report in full here; the specific topic of player bias is discussed on page 69.) But human nature says that we all respond to various people differently, even if it's not done consciously. (For what it's worth, Iverson -- this allegation, and otherwise -- is not discussed once in the 133-page Pedowitz report. The report has previously been described as a "whitewash" by critics. Assuming the FBI and NBA investigators heard about the Iverson case before Sunday night, the lack of mention in the report does not help the NBA build a case that the report is anything but a whitewashing of the scandal.)
I question whether any of Fryer, his boss Ron Johnson, or his boss David Stern feels terribly distraught that Iverson, who has always been a bit feisty toward refs, got "punished" for his threat. Johnson is new to the league and, since coming on board in the wake of the Donaghy scandal, has really denied most alleged problems with the league's referee program. Stern has similarly focused on laying all blame on Donaghy, calling him a "rogue" and underplaying quiet but significant (not to mention telling) changes to the ref program, including the recent move to bar officials from tipping ballboys. That reform came in October, purportedly as a new clause in the new contract between the referees' union and the league, the negotiations of which (the contract, not this specific clause) nearly left the NBA using replacement referees to start this season. The NBA
The problem with all these nagging Donaghy allegations beyond the scope of fixing games is that fans surely dislike this crap. I mean, the existence of so-called "superstar calls" gets goats. People are still making jokes about the 2006 Finals. Rasheed Wallace is still complaining about LeBron James's apparent favored status among officials. That -- superstar calls -- is one thing. But conspiracy to punish a player on the court because the league didn't come down harshly enough on him? In America, we call that vigilantism and we don't particularly like it.
Refs have a job. Doling out favors or penalties based on personalities or previous incidents is not a part of that. Making a bad call is one thing -- refs are human and no basketball game can ever be called perfectly. But making a bad call with an ulterior motive -- financial in Donaghy's case, due to personality conflicts in the other alleged cases -- is reprehensible. Fans don't pay (in time and money) to watch personal vendettas get played out between referees and basketball players. We pay to see basketball.
Since the NBA failed to address the Iverson allegation in the Pedowitz report, fans really deserve an explanation. Is Donaghy making this up wholesale? Was Fryer asked about it during the FBI investigation?