Post-game Reactions

Rasheed Wallace is feeling some vindication after excerpts surfaced from Tim Donaghy’s yet-to-be-published book in which Donaghy claims refs made bets among themselves over who could whistle an unpopular player with a technical first. 

Via the Herald

“Hey,” said Wallace, “it lets people know that I ain’t a liar. I mean, that’s pretty much all I got to say about that. Everybody thought I was crazy and militant, but, hey, it came to light.”

I am not going to weigh on whether or not anything Donaghy says is credible, but I was struck by how many of the excerpts posted last week on Deadspin involved mundane sorts of transgressions (though they are not really so mundane) and not talk of grand conspiracies. Donaghy writes about the bets on technicals and secret contests in which refs would see how long they could go after the start of a game without calling a foul—with the ref who caved first responsible for tipping the officials’ locker room attendant after the game. 

To me, claims about smallish violations and mini-power trips might be the most credible things Donaghy has ever alleged. These are sort of temptations that ensnare a small number of people in any position of authority. A few teachers will hold grudges against particular students, bad apple cops will harass street kids for no reason or have ticket-issuing competitions (I used to write about cops, so I know), etc. That’s essentially what we’re talking about here. 

Don’t misinterpret: These aren’t small things, really. A technical foul for no real reason other than a bet made among snickering referees plays a tiny role in the outcome of a basketball game. And not calling fouls at the beginning of the game could cause injuries. These things are a big enough deal that I doubt they happened often—if they happened at all. 

But it wouldn’t shock me if they were true. I mean, they’re so silly it seems unlikely Donaghy would completely fabricate them, right? Then again, he’s a crook and a cheater, so perhaps he would; in his mind, making up little transgressions might provide a foundation of credibility for his larger lies. 

In any case, two things are true: 1) Sheed feels vindicated; 2) The NBA instituted a ban on refs tipping locker room attendants a day after Deadspin published the Donaghy excerpts. It is unclear if the two events have any connection, according to ESPN’s Chris Sheridan.

Also Sunday: The Herald and the Globe have essentially the same story about Rajon Rondo’s determination to focus as hard against middling point guards as he does against elite ones. 

Reminder: The deadline to extend Rondo expires at 6:30 p.m. tomorrow (according to the Herald story) or 11:59 p.m. tomorrow (according to an ESPN story saying the two sides will talk today). Will the two sides get it done?

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Zach Lowe

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