The NBA referee suspected of influencing point spreads has been identified this morning as 13-year veteran Tim Donaghy, and not only is Donaghy said to have resigned pending prosecutor action, but David Stern has issued this extraordinary statement:
We would like to assure our fans that no amount of effort, time or personnel is being spared to assist in this investigation, to bring to justice an individual who has betrayed the most sacred trust in professional sports, and to take the necessary steps to protect against this ever happening again.
Now, maybe I’m just reading this way too literally, but didn’t the commissioner of the NBA just admit that league games were influenced by a crooked ref? He didn’t use the conditional mode here: he’s saying it happened and he hopes the investigators nail the bastard. Seems to me this should not only have been the lede of the Times story, it should be on the front of every general-interest electronic news page on this continent. Right now it hasn’t even made the front of the CBC Sports online section (though I admit that Riders-Esks game was pretty awesome) or the home page of CNN.com. In case there’s any uncertainty about this at the news desks, actual corrupt officiating in a major pro team sport would be something that isn’t known to have happened in at least 50 years and would be an order of magnitude larger in importance than any instance of mere cheating by a player.