In Analyzing Donaghy, Tap on Bedrins Waist Could Be Filled With Meaning.
By ALAN SCHWARZ
Published: July 24, 2007
As F.B.I. officials, the news media and fans pore over video footage of games refereed by Tim Donaghy, looking for curious foul calls and other such behavior, several seconds of a game between the Chicago Bulls and the Golden State Warriors in February could attract attention.
Donaghy, who just completed his 13th season with the N.B.A., is under federal investigation for suspected betting on games in which he officiated and for an association with organized crime.
The Bulls-Warriors game of Feb. 9, played at Golden State and broadcast on ESPN, was tied, 112-112, with 23 seconds remaining. While a Bulls guard dribbled between midcourt and the 3-point shot line — clearly working the clock down for an attempt at a final shot — Warriors center Andris Biedrens stood in the lane without guarding anyone for about seven seconds, which is grounds for a defensive three-seconds violation.
Donaghy, stationed behind Biedrens on the baseline, clearly stepped forward and tapped Biedrens on the waist with 16 seconds left. Biedrens, by then at the edge of the lane, then immediately moved clear of the paint, and play continued.
The penalty for defensive three seconds is the assessment of a technical foul and retention of the ball. Golden State could have faced a 3- or 4-point deficit before getting the ball back.
Instead, the Bulls had a shot blocked with six seconds left, and Golden State missed a half-court heave to leave the score tied as regulation time ran out. The Warriors won in overtime, 123-121. According to several gambling Web sites, the odds opened with the Warriors favored by a point and a half.
A veteran official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because speaking with the news media violates the referees’ collective-bargaining agreement with the N.B.A., said that in such a situation he would not have blown the whistle because the violation was too trivial in a crucial moment. “I would let the players determine the game,” he said.
The official added that touching a player or providing any sort of a warning that a whistle is imminent — from either that referee or another on the floor — is forbidden.
“I would never touch him — it would show up on tape,” the official said. “We used to be able to say something like ‘Get out! Get out!’ But they said that was cheating. We considered it game management.”
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