Friday, July 20, 2007

NBA Ref May Have Bet on Own Games [J. Mark English]

I recall Jeff Van Gundy a few years ago being muzzled for complaining that it was as if the Rockets were being treated unfairly by refs because they were trying to affect the outcome. Van Gundy was fined for throwing out such suggestions with out any proof.

And now this story from Murray Weiss of the New York Post comes out:

THE FBI is investigating an NBA referee who allegedly was betting on basketball games - including ones he was officiating during the past two seasons - as part of an organized-crime probe in the Big Apple, The Post has learned.

The investigation, which began more than a year ago, is zeroing in on blockbuster allegations that the referee was making calls that affected the point spread to guarantee that he - and the hoods who had their hooks in him - cashed in on large bets.

Federal agents are set to arrest the referee and a cadre of mobsters and their associates who lined their pockets, sources said.

"These are dangerous people [the referee] was involved with," a source said.

One source close to the probe counted the number of games on which the ref and his wiseguy buddies scored windfalls in the "double digits."

NBA Commissioner David Stern is aware of the investigation and has a report about the referee on his desk, another source said.

The official, whose name was withheld, allegedly wagered on games during the 2005-06 and 2006-07 NBA seasons.

Comment -

I don't think people quite realize or grasp the concept that gambling in sports from the very people involved in that sport is a cardinal sin. People look at someone like Pete Rose and want to look the other way for his gambling problems. But his gambling on Reds baseball threatens the publics ability to know that what they are watching is the real deal. There is an element of trust between the fans and the sports we watch. That sacred trust allows the fans to know that what happens on the field is real. The NBA, NFL, MLB, and the NHL are not the WWE. And we accept this.

If it turns out that this ref is guilty, I hope they throw the book at him, to make sure that this can never happen again. Otherwise the sports we watch may become so poisoned with the element of disbelief, that there will be no reason to ever watch the games we love again.

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