“… The first thing that I would like to say is that our rules are crystal clear; that referees may not either gamble on our games; or, provide information to anyone about those games…. … make it clear that not only aren’t they permitted to either gamble or provide information to people; they may not even provide other than to their immediate family the details of their travel schedules or the games they are going to work.”
This makes all kinds of sense to me. If someone knew that Eddie Rush and Tim Donaghy were reffing game 3 of the Phoenix vs Spurs game, the Spurs were a lock to beat the spread. Their combined ATS was 63-86-4. I’d certainly go with the numbers if I were betting, visiting team beats the spread 60% of the time with these two reffing. But wait, who does the scheduling of the refs for the NBA? Did someone want the Spurs to win in the office? Stretch the series, put more money in the NBA’s pocket? What other details about a game could a ref give that would be give a gambler and unfair advantage? So lets say I’m a smart gambler with crazy money. Why wouldn’t I put an ‘observer’ at every game. ‘Tell me what refs show up?’ I put big money on the game before the tip. I win 60%+ of the time. 60% of the time can be parlayed into huge money. HAVING CRAPPY REFS IS THE PROBLEM!
“…On the court, we have since the beginning of 2003 2004, been implementing a system that is designed to capture every call that a referee makes, and every non call that is deemed by observers to be incorrect. And our observer system works roughly as follows: We have retained 30 observers, one at each of our team’s games. They are in effect charting the game with respect to the calls and other observations that they make. They then review the game on tape. They then are audited, not every game, but selectively audited by the group supervisors that we have employed by the NBA…”
So when you say you have ‘the best monitored officials’ in professional sports, you’re talking about 1 observer at a game. Then they are audited, sometimes. Mr. Stern, you have 1000′s of observers at every game. They have said it millions of times. Listen to them. Listen to us!
“…And that is not to say that if something unusual popped up, we wouldn’t pursue it, but we it was not predominately developed as a screen for criminal activity…”
This is what is scary about it, nothing unusual ‘popped up’, and yet it wasn’t simply a ref making bad calls. It was ORGANIZED CRIME! How broke can this system be!
“Now, with respect to Mr. Donaghy, in 19 in January of 2005, it came to the NBA’s attention that he was involved in disputes with his neighbor which resulted in the filing of litigation in or about West Chester, Pennsylvania, where he resided.”
Come on now, this is a ref, how seriously can we take your investigation into a dispute with his neighbor? Wouldn’t you be more concerned with his testimonial for LASIK eye surgery to correct his vision, publicly saying his contacts dried out on the court, etc?
“Now, on June 20, we got a call from the Federal Bureau of Investigation telling us that they would like to come in and meet with us because one of our investigations June 20 of this year, by the way, I’m sorry. After our foreshortened Finals, we received a call from the FBI to say that they wanted to come and talk to us about a referee alleged to be gambling on games.”
I’m not sure I get the point here. A ‘foreshortened Finals’? Did you make that call? ‘Refs put the Cavs out of their misery’. Was it a TKO in the first? I understood it to be a best of 7 series. Wasn’t it?
“One, we’re extraordinarily thankful and appreciative of the efforts of the FBI and of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Justice Department.”
I’m thankful and appreciative as well, I just wish they could focus on bank robbers, murderers, drug dealers, instead of cleaning up the NBA’s mess.
“…We understand that he is accused of betting on games in the NBA. We are not positive it’s games that he worked, although I understand that some of those are games specifically that he worked; I understand that it may be that he bet on other games in which he didn’t work. I understand that he is accused of, or likely to be accused of, providing information to others for the purpose of allowing them to profit on betting on NBA games.”
What are you really trying to say here? Are you still in denial?
“…I am not I don’t know the number of games. I don’t know which games…”
We know which games, you could have visited our site!
“…And until this moment, I have not deployed substantial amounts of people to do the work that would be necessary to satisfy us, because I felt constrained by the FBI’s request that we not communicate this to anybody; so the smallest possible number of people knew about this in the NBA office and knew about the fact of this ongoing investigation…”
So on July 20 when you said “We would like to assure our fans that no amount of effort, time or personnel is being spared to assist in this investigation, to bring to justice an individual …” You really meant just that. You really contributed ‘NO amount of effort, time, or personnel to assist in the investigation”.
“…On July 9, Mr. Donaghy resigned. Suffice it to say that we would like to have terminated him earlier upon learning certain things, but it was our understanding that the investigation would best be aided if we did not terminate Mr. Donaghy. So, we did not, and he resigned…”
It was your understanding… did you ask? Mr. Stern, you were a lawyer, you know the right questions to ask. Didn’t you ask? Can we fire him? I guess it’s a mute point, it’s not like he had any upcoming games he was scheduled for, right?
“…We understand that the relevant time period being investigated is the past two seasons; that is, 2005 2006, and 2006 2007. I can tell you that during that period of time, Mr. Donaghy refereed 139 regular season games, eight playoff games, and four preseason games….”
Thanks for that breaking news…
“…Just a couple of other things. No. 1, there’s been some speculation that we knew that Donaghy was betting the season and nevertheless let him work. That’s not true….”
There’s more speculation that Donaghy sucked, as do a lot of the NBA referees what is being done about that?
“…I have been involved with refereeing, and obviously been involved with the NBA for 40 years in some shape or form. I can tell you that this is the most serious situation and worst situation that I have ever experienced either as a fan of the NBA, a lawyer for the NBA or a commissioner of the NBA. And we take our obligation to our fans in this matter very, very seriously, and I can stand here today and pledge that we will do every look back possible to analyze our processes and seek the best advice possible to see if there are changes that should be made and procedures that should be implemented to continue to assure fans that we are doing the best we possibly can.”
The refereeing would have to be taken out of the NBA’s hands. A separate organization is the only way officiating can be done fairly, accurately, and professionally. The NBA does basketball well… let someone else worry about the officiating. Someone that isn’t afraid to fire bad refs.
“… the statistical the institution of the statistical development database was at my direction and the institution of the two of the more recent annual reviews of all that’s legal were at my direction.”So you are to blame?“Well, actually after this press conference I’ll going to the NBA family picnic to assure a bunch of employees, their families and kids that the sun is definitely going to rise tomorrow.”How nice… “…We’ve been comparing our procedures to see whether there are other leagues that we want to, you know, despite our competitive spirit, that actually do it better than we do…”Okay, so when you said “the best officials, the best-monitored officials, the best-developed officials in all of sports.” that really wasn’t the truth?
You’ve always been very protective of the referees and the fact that there was a system in place of players and coach, criticize referees, they are fined sometimes quite heavily. What are you going to do to look at your system and perhaps make it more transparent? And you talked about your covenant with your fans; what can you do to work with the players to reassure them that the system is honest and above board?Stern:
Well, I think I’m going to come back to the fact that I’m going to wait for this investigation to run it’s course, because we think we have here a rogue, isolated criminal. And I think we want people to understand our system, and I think I still have to be protective of my officials, including those who likely have been and will continue to be unfailingly besmirched in the allegations that have been made against Mr. Donaghy.By and large, they get it right most of the time. They get it wrong sometimes. Sometimes they perhaps carry themselves in a way that is not as modest as we would prefer, but they do their darnedest to get the result right. And frankly, I’m more concerned, rather than chastising them, with reassuring them that I am committed to protecting them while at the same time making sure that we keep our covenant with our fans.With respect to transparency, you know, I’m going to wait for the summer to yield the results as a fan and the like. I think it’s important that our referees who have a very difficult job, you know, 70 away games every year going into a place where there seems to be unanimity of agreement about their competency, not their integrity, but their competence. We’ve got people complaining about from both teams about the referees called a bad game against them.But we’ll continue to work with our referees to get their accuracy level up. We’ll continue to work I mean, to be transparent in the sense that our fans know how the system works. We will do that. We’re not transparent enough. We will continue to recruit and improve our recruitment which is another ongoing issue. We will continue to bear the expense for both the Development League and the WNBA to work three person rotations so that our referees training can have the greatest array of competition and the like and anything else we can learn. I think transparency is a good thing.”NOW! Transparency is a good thing, now? Please realize that if you would admit to officiating mistakes, miscalls, misjudgments you wouldn’t be in this mess right now! All we’ve ever asked for is transparency. Now you’ve put your refs in a precarious position. You’ve criminalized them in the publics mind. One may get indicted, but in public opinion none will live it down. The same precarious position that refs put players in, by making bad calls, by letting things slide, players get injured all the time because a game is allowed to get out of hand.
Question: So they are looking into the other referees, as well?Stern: “Not exactly….”
So what? who? Players? Coaches? Stu? You?
Question: If I’m reading you right, is it yet to be determined whether Donaghy made calls that affected outcomes of the games?Stern:“… I don’t know about any charges or any discussions or anything else with regard to fixing of games.”
You’ve got to be kidding me! What do you think this is all about? Have you watched ESPN lately? When Jordan or Pete Rose gambled it was a big deal, when an a relatively unknown referee gambles it’s pretty clear that we’re talking about fixing games.
“Question: Just to go back a second, Tim Donaghy resigned, but you must have resigned him. Can you tell us how that –Stern: No, no.”
What do you mean No, no? Whats hard to figure out about this?
Question: He came in –
Stern: No, he didn’t come in. We received a letter. He resigned. Because we came to the belief that termination by us might hamper the ongoing investigation, and as a result, even though we knew he was going to be terminated, we did not because we did not want to be responsible for in any way, shape or form influencing the investigation.
You didn’t want to influence the investigation, nobody in the league office knew about it, so you basically stuck your head in the sand and ignored it till the media found out? So tell us about his pension plan?
Question: Earlier today, you said that you had been aware of the threat placed to all sports, and we think about it all the time at the league offices. I believe at the All Star Game in Las Vegas, you were asked by a reporter, ‘Does the subject of game fixing in any way concern you’; and you said, ‘No, it does not concern me and I’m surprised you ask the question.’ Just curious if you could explain the context of why you said that and how we should reconcile that with what you said today.Stern: Do you have the transcript with you.
Question: No, I don’t?
Stern: I don’t remember saying it that way. I think it was somehow connecting it to Las Vegas which I think is actually counter. I understand what I said was I understood, or what I say now, I understand why Las Vegas says that it is actually the check on illegal gambling, even though — the check on points spreads, even though it only represents to something under five percent of actual betting; the rest being 95 percent illegal, but it’s the connection between. As I recall the question, it was like, aren’t I worried that being in Las Vegas affects fixing of games, and that’s not.
Are you concerned that gambling lost to casinos bought an NBA franchise? Are the Maloof’s in Donaghy’s 5?
Question: Are you reviewing tapes of games that Donaghy was involved in, and also, what do you tell spectators who are looking very hard at the Suns’ first playoff series?Stern: I would like to await the outcome of the criminal investigation so that we will both know before I answer that question, whether that was one of the games that was bet.With respect to the review of games, we are, as I said earlier, we didn’t deploy all of the people that would be necessary to do that. He worked 150 games over the last two years, of course we did not want to sort of march people together and say, we are now going to investigate Tim Donaghy, I want you to look for this. But I can assure that you in the fullness of the summer and the autumn, we will have the opportunity to review Mr. Donaghy statistically and by video, and it will be done.While your at it, can you review the 2005-2006 Western Conference Finals. A technical foul which was later rescinded by the league, cost the Spurs the game, a game which would have won the series.
“Question: On your referee monitoring system in the arena, do you use existing TV cameras or do you have a separate number of cameras set up for this?
Stern: No, we use existing TV cameras. We have lots of different feeds.”
Now wait a another minute, I had season tickets for several years. You can’t see all of the refs actions, comments, or views from a TV camera. They’re simply not watching the whole court. When Haslem was ejected by Crawford he was looking for a reaction, when he should have been watching the action down court. The cameras aren’t enough.
Question: To the best of your understanding, do you really feel that it’s possible to determine if a referee is actually cheating, making calls that aren’t real?Stern: That’s a really good question. It’s very hard, but we’re going to give it our best shot. There are things that you have been speculating about in the media in the last few days about the number of calls, the disparity of calls and the like. But it’s hard, but we’re going to do it and we’ll be able to make the judgment at that time.It would not surprise me if it proves to be difficult, but I just want to say one thing here. If you bet on a game, you lose the benefit of the doubt. So I’m not going to stand here and say to you, it didn’t happen, because that would impair the credibility that I think the NBA deserves for its efforts, and that’s why we don’t allow betting on games because as our brochure that we give to the referees says, that if you bet, then people will assume that the game is being subjected to the possibility that it would be decided by other than on its merits, and I think that’s a fair point. And I will make no defense, neat criminal distinction between betting on games here and something worse. You lose the benefit of the doubt when you do it.
So what your essentially saying is that you don’t know if a ref is making bad calls? Give me a call.. I can help.
Question: How does this impact the possibility of an NBA franchise sometime being in Las Vegas?Stern: I don’t know. I think the I honestly think that the juxtaposition of a meeting of our committee on that subject which was scheduled for Monday and this was untimely and I cancelled the meeting; not out of any rational response, but my feeling about it was it was not something I wanted to juxtapose, and I think that in the course of the summer, we’ll think about that as well.It doesn’t hurt to have Maloof money eh?
Question: You mentioned that referees are allowed to bet at the racetrack in the off season. Isn’t that the same kind of place where you can get into the same kind of gambling problem or debt as other forms? Why is that an exception?Stern: Because it was bargained for by the union against a since we had the most far reaching prohibition, I think of any sport, which prohibited them being in casinos, that we said, okay, if you’re a summer day at the racetrack is okay, out of season.What about the Palms? Mike Bibby got ‘PunkeD’ at the palms.
Question: If you do find out that playoff games may have been compromised, does that make regaining the confidence of the fans and the public even more difficult if your tournament was possibly tainted?Stern: I think that I think that we are going to maintain the confidence of our fans and regain the confidence of those who may be shaken by this as we are. But to me, one game that is allegedly determined on its merits is bad enough. I’m not going to distinguish I’m not going to take the easy out and say I’m relieved that there are no playoff games, which might be the case, I don’t know. That doesn’t make it any better for me.If regular season games are determined on other than their merits, then the wrong has been done; the trust has been violated. I’m not going to distinguish between postseason and regular season.Woo Hoo… REFUNDS!
Question: Could you confirm reports that Donaghy was at or near the top of the list among fouls called, technicals; and if so, was that something that trips the league’s wires?Stern: No, I can tell you, I believe that he was not near the top of technicals. And I believe that he probably was near or at top of calls made, but someone always has to be at the top, at the bottom, to get you to an average and if someone was calling a couple of fouls more than the average, we see that in different categories.We use that for training, actually, sometimes. We go back, we look at tapes and we see that a referee is adamantly not calling defensive three, then we go back and look at a tape and we don’t say he’s got to call more. We look at examples that’s a trigger for us to look at examples that that’s happening and that something may be missing and we’ll call it to his attention. A foul call itself is not a trip wire for us.
Are you still in DENIAL?
“Question: Mr. Donaghy has not been convicted or charged with anything so, what evidence do you have that he’s guilty of having bet on games?Stern: His lawyer informed us that he’s contemplating a plea on that subject.Does that answer your question?”
A plea, is that guilty? That’s weak… tell us what you know!
“Before I leave with a thank you, I just want to sum up to say to you that this is something that is the worst that could happen to a professional sports league. And I want to say on the other hand that we are going to make good on the covenant that we believe we have with our fans, and I pledge that my involvement will be as intense and complete as it can possibly be and what we do will be completely transparent.Thank you very much.”We look forward to your unabridged report!