Skip to main content

Dome Pondering Import – Excerpts From “Blowing The Whistle”

The following import are excerpts that have made their way into the press from the controversial and fittingly named book, Blowing the Whistle. The book written by Tim Donaghy, former NBA referee who was convicted and sent to prison due to gambling on NBA games, shared his thoughts, and lets some secrets out in a book that is sure to make David Stern cringe. The excerpts, which are very interesting, touch base on topics such as gambling amongst the league referees, star treatment, and makeup calls. 

Whether or not the book has any leverage and/or credibility in the way fans view the NBA is yet to be determined. However, one has to one what Donaghy would have to lose at this point? He is in jail. He is forever blackballed. And revenge against the the machine that is the NBA is impossible. What’s left to do but tell the truth?


Blowing The Whistle
By: Tim Donaghy
On Gambling Referees:

“While still in the locker room before tip-off, we would make a wager on which of us would call the game's first foul. That referee would either have to pay the ball boy or pick up the dinner tab for the other two referees. Sometimes, the ante would be $50 a guy. Like the technical foul bet, it was hilarious — only this time we were testing each other's nerves to see who had the guts to hold out the longest before calling a personal foul. There were occasions when we would hold back for two or three minutes — an eternity in an NBA game — before blowing the whistle. It didn't matter if bodies were flying all over the place; no fouls were called because no one wanted to lose the bet.”
“We played this little game during the regular season and summer league. After a game, all three refs would gather around the VCR and watch a replay of the game. Early in the contest, the announcers would say, "Holy cow! They're really letting them play tonight!" If they only knew...”
On Star Treatment:
“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.”
On Makeup Calls:
“I remember one nightmarish game I worked with Joe Crawford and Phil Robinson. Minnesota and New Orleans were in a tight game going into the last minute, and Crawford told us to make sure that we were 100 percent sure of the call every time we blew the whistle. When play resumed, Minnesota coach Flip Saunders started yelling at us to make a call. Robinson got intimidated and blew the whistle on New Orleans. The only problem was it wasn't the right call. Tim Floyd, the Hornets' coach, went nuts. He stormed the court and kicked the ball into the top row of the stadium. Robinson had to throw him out, and Minnesota won the game.”
[...]
”Later that week, Ronnie Nunn told me that we could have made something up at the other end against Minnesota to even things out. He even got specific — maybe we should have considered calling a traveling violation on Kevin Garnett. Talk about the politics of the game! Of course the official statement from the league office will always read, "There is no such thing as a makeup call."
On His Fellow Referees:
“Studying under Dick Bavetta for 13 years was like pursuing a graduate degree in advanced game manipulation. He knew how to marshal the tempo and tone of a game better than any referee in the league, by far. He also knew how to take subtle — and not so subtle — cues from the NBA front office and extend a playoff series or, worse yet, change the complexion of that series.”
“The 2002 Western Conference Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Sacramento Kings presents a stunning example of game and series manipulation at its ugliest. As the teams prepared for Game 6 at the Staples Center, Sacramento had a 3–2 lead in the series. The referees assigned to work Game 6 were Dick Bavetta, Bob Delaney, and Ted Bernhardt. As soon as the referees for the game were chosen, the rest of us knew immediately that there would be a Game 7. A prolonged series was good for the league, good for the networks, and good for the game. Oh, and one more thing: it was great for the big-market, star-studded Los Angeles Lakers."
“In the pregame meeting prior to Game 6, the league office sent down word that certain calls — calls that would have benefitted the Lakers — were being missed by the referees. This was the type of not-so-subtle information that I and other referees were left to interpret. After receiving the dispatch, Bavetta openly talked about the fact that the league wanted a Game 7.”
"If we give the benefit of the calls to the team that's down in the series, nobody's going to complain. The series will be even at three apiece, and then the better team can win Game 7," Bavetta stated.”
“As history shows, Sacramento lost Game 6 in a wild come-from-behind thriller that saw the Lakers repeatedly sent to the foul line by the referees. For other NBA referees watching the game on television, it was a shameful performance by Bavetta's crew, one of the most poorly officiated games of all time.”

Recently Read Posts

Sunday Sundown Rundown - 11/20/22

3 Up 1. Bad Bunny - Congratulations (and major breakthrough props) are in order for Bad Bunny who made history with the first Spanish-Language Album of the Year nomination. The dude has been crushing it with major cross-over appeal - and yes, he's a helluva wrestler.  2. Taylor Swift - This could be a down because of the entire Ticketmaster ordeal, but Swift gets the "Up" solely because only she can break Ticketmaster like this. The star power continues to be amazing.  3. FIFA World Cup - Sure, there is plenty of negatives to get into here, but the event itself is amazing. I'm ready to get caught up in it all.  3 Down 1. Iran Protestors - The nation is in political unrest and many protesters being caught are being sentenced to harsh penalties, or worse, death. Just more instability  2. U.S. Mass Shootings - We just continue to give access to individuals who shouldn't have guns. We've become so numb to this. What have we become?  Prayers, comfort, and positive

Sunday Sundown Rundown - 11/6/22

3 Up 1. NYC Marathon Winners - I am ALWAYS in awe of marathon runners, especially, marathon winners. Congratulations to Evans Chebet and Sharon Lokedi on winning the Men's and Women's races.  2. Taylor Swift - Only Taylor Swift can reach the heights of breaking records from the likes of The Beatles. And well, she's done just that. Also, she's taken over the entire Top 10 by becoming the first artist - ever! - to do just that. Amazing.  3. World Series No-Hitter (and Championship) - It pains me to give the Houston Astros some love in this space, but it is deserved. Especially, for that combined no-hitter in Game 4 of the World Series. Kudos.  3 Down 1. Antisemitic Rhetoric - There is so much that can be said here. I'll just repeat a sentence from an Asian student in our office as others discussed Kyrie Irving, Kanye West, and all of the antisemitic rhetoric currently out there - why would you say any of this? 2. Takeoff Killed - Such a tragic occurrence. We just do

Sunday Sundown Rundown - 10/9/22

3 Up 1. Marijuana Convicts Pardoned - Sure, President Biden's political history had a lot to do with the fact that plenty of black and brown men was in jail for a substance so many are profiting off of as a legal opportunity. Nonetheless, it's still the right thing to do. Too many lives and families were broken for something many now legally enjoy. Again, just the right thing to do.  2. Emily Sisson - I'm always in awe of marathon runners. Even more, those who smash records. Congratulations to Emily Sisson on setting a record for American women at the Chicago Marathon. 26.2 Miles in 2:04:24. Unbelievable.  3. Nobel Chemistry Prize Winners - Speaking of things that are impressive, bringing home a a Nobel Prize in Chemistry seems to be on that list.  3 Down 1. Systemic Abuse in Women's Soccer - It's pretty unbelievable that women STILL deal with these issues in sports, but we're just not there yet. The year-long report about U.S. Soccer executives and NWSL owner

Survivor Series 2022 Review: "Served it's Purpose" on Thanksgiving Weekend

There was something especially "traditional" about the Survivor Series happening over Thanksgiving weekend that added to the intrigue and the overall aura of the event. Something that felt well, overall anticipatory and "right" for a wrestling event on a Thanksgiving Saturday night (you know, if that's a thing going forward - maybe?). Of course, all of this is ironic considering this Survivor Series event took a break from the historical concept of the 5-on-5 survivor tag-team format for the much more WCW-ish, "War Games". As Triple H (or do we call him Paul, now? Mr. LeVeque? Mr. Triple H? Mr. Helmsley?) noted in the post-show press conference, the break was indeed a nice change of pace, allowing the old format to take a breather and gain some nostalgic interest for the events to come.  Nonetheless, Survivor Series was welcomed and it was a good show. For me, the War Games matches were there and were entertaining. Everyone in those matches felt like t