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Jim Adams: Even casual fans could see that the fix was in

Tim Donaghy is a scumbag. He lives in a desperate world in which he is grasping for straws. He will do anything, yes anything, to limit an upcoming sentence on fixing NBA games. He is a disgrace, one not to be trusted! Do not listen to him as his bitterness and discontent is only surpassed by the upcoming amount of time he will spend in prison. This ex-referee must be silenced!

So Commissioner David Stern and the rest of his NBA cronies would like you to believe. They would like you to think these are actions of an unbalanced man. They want to encourage you to run as far away from his incredible claims as quickly as you can. Donaghy is a man not to be trusted, they would say. Please do not listen!

However, with so much smoke, must there be flames?



In this case, it is a blazing inferno that only the very best of Stern’s fire squad will be able to extinguish.

Remember 2002? Game six. Sacramento Kings vs. Los Angeles Lakers. In Los Angeles. Sacramento leads the series 3 games to 2. The big market team is on the verge of being dispatched by the little market team. A game 7 would be huge for the NBA. In fact, in some circles, for a variety of reasons, it is considered a MUST.




However, no one expected what was about to unfold.

Admittedly, I am not an expert on the National Basketball Association. There is great enjoyment to be derived from local high school round ball. Yes, it has been personally difficult to draw close to the NBA. Everyone has their likes and dislikes. At times, it has been almost impossible to live in our area and not be consumed by the Kings. However, for the record, I must share with you that I do not care whether they win or lose. I am simply not a fan.

However, on that Friday night in 2002, my son and I were in San Jose preparing to officiate a major hockey tournament the following day. After our pre-tournament meal, we retired to our room to relax. The following day would be beyond frantic. On that occasion, on that night, as strange as it might be, Ryan and I watched that game. What a prelude it was to a day of refereeing. It was, indeed, a lesson.

As the game unfolded and ventured into its later stages, it became apparent to both of us that something was dreadfully wrong. This was not a case of three men having a bad night at the office. We watched as a series of phantom calls materialized. We watched as Los Angeles trotted to the free throw line 40 times. We watched as the Lakers took 27 of those 40 free throws in the decisive fourth quarter. We watched as the officiating team dismantled the final 12 minutes and insured that there would be that glorious Game 7.

Imagine the ratings? Imagine the hoopla? Imagine the possibilities of an NBA Finals that featured big city Los Angeles instead of hick town Sacramento? Phil Jackson could save his “cow bell” references for another season. In the end, the Kings would lose Game 6 by the score of 106-102. The NBA would get their Game 7. They would even eventually be blessed with their Big City, Big Names presence in the NBA Finals.

I remember on that night turning to Ryan at the conclusion of the contest and saying, “That game was a fix.” It seemed very obvious to me … to both of us. As a referee, albeit hockey, you kind of grow a nose for something like that. This was Pro Wrestling stuff. Something was dreadfully wrong.

Donaghy called the officiating crew of Dick Bavetta, Bob Delaney, and Ted Bernhardt “company men who always acted in the best interest of the NBA.” He accused them of “ignoring blatant fouls committed by its (LA’s) players and calling ‘made-up’ fouls.” As scorned as Tim Donaghy is, and as repulsive as his actions in betting on games he officiated were, this is hitting the nail on the head. 2002’s Game 6 in the NBA Western Conference Finals in Los Angeles was a fix. Bold words and tough for the NBA to swallow, yes. However, the officiating exhibition of that night was beyond compelling. Donaghy was in the know at the time. He has broken the code of silence.

As journalists and talk show radio line up to support the NBA and further discredit Donaghy, there is merit in his accusations here. As we are each entitled to our own opinions, may I assert that it is time the NBA internally address Donaghy’s claims. The hierarchy will never admit that this is an issue, but just as the Donaghys of the world must face their music, the NBA must address their own ill-fated broken record.

There is more than smoke at NBA headquarters. There is a now a fire that has been smoldering since 2002.

Jim Adams, lives in Nevada City, is a regular contributor to The Union, a broadcaster for TouchDown Productions. He may be reached via e-mail at adamses@inreach.com.


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