Thursday, October 29, 2009


From Deadspin, one can find excerpts from a book written by disgraced referee Tim Donaghy. The book is called "Blowing the Whistle" and was scheduled to be released by Triumph Books, a subsidiary of Random House. Then the NBA threatened to sue and Random House told Triumph to pull the book.

Some excerpts from the unreleased book:

Relationships between NBA players and referees were generally all over the board-love, hate, and everything in-between. Some players, even very good ones, were targeted by referees and the league because they were too talented for their own good. Raja Bell, formerly of the Phoenix Suns and now a member of the Charlotte Bobcats, was one of those players. A defensive specialist throughout his career, Bell had a reputation for being a "star stopper." His defensive skills were so razor sharp that he could shut down a superstar, or at least make him work for his points. Kobe Bryant was often frustrated by Bell's tenacity on defense. Let's face it, no one completely shuts down a player of Kobe's caliber, but Bell could frustrate Kobe, take him out of his game, and interrupt his rhythm.

You would think that the NBA would love a guy who plays such great defense. Think again! Star stoppers hurt the promotion of marquee players. Fans don't pay high prices to see players like Raja Bell-they pay to see superstars like Kobe Bryant score 40 points. Basketball purists like to see good defense, but the NBA wants the big names to score big points.

If a player of Kobe's stature collides with the likes of Raja Bell, the call will almost always go for Kobe and against Bell. As part of our ongoing training and game preparation, NBA referees regularly receive game-action video tape from the league office. Over the years, I have reviewed many recorded hours of video involving Raja Bell. The footage I analyzed usually illustrated fouls being called against Bell, rarely for him. The message was subtle but clear-call fouls against the star stopper because he's hurting the game.

So what does this have to do with the WNBA, you might ask? Well, one of tne of the reasons that the NBA took off in the 1950s was because of a point-shaving scandal in college basketball. The former college basketball fans couldn't be sure if their games were on the up-and-up, and transferred their allegiances to the NBA.

Anything that causes fans to question the veracity of what they're seeing can cause fans to shift allegiances. (I shifted my allegiance to the WNBA after baseball's steroid scandals.) Fans of competing leagues in the same sport end up benefiting. Men's college basketball, women's college basketball and the WNBA could all come out the winners. It's not that I'm rooting for the a decline in NBA attendance; I'm merely stating that this tends to be the result of sportwide scandals.

One can argue that the WNBA should be free of such chicanery because the stakes are too low. (Then again, with Michael Price behind the whistle, you never know.)

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