The first two minutes of the documentary “Untold: Operation Flagrant Foul,” now streaming on Netflix, about former NBA referee Tim Donaghy should give viewers plenty of amazement and cause them to re-evaluate their definition of truth.
The bold words appear on screen when producers ask the NBA to comment on the film: “Tim Donaghy is a convicted felon. …there is no basis now to reconsider any of this.”
Then Donaghy, a Pennsylvanian native and 76er fan, appeared on screen and flashed those words with a voiceover, “I love basketball. Growing up, all I did, all I dreamed of, all I wanted to be a part of. Man, Did (expletive) lift my life up.”
Regardless of the legal facts of the case, the last sentence in this statement may be the most truthful thing in the entire documentary.
“Operation Flagrant Bean,” also the name of the federal investigation into Donaghy and the scheme, delves into the 2007 gambling scandal that nearly brought down the NBA, questioning its integrity. The accusations, insinuations, and lies come from a cast of lawyers and characters, including Tommy Martino and Jimmy Batista – the Donaghy conspirators, telling a story many have long wanted to forget—especially the NBA (no one from the league was involved in the movie).
Although he wrote a book about the ordeal, “Personal Mistake: A First-person Report on the Scandal That Shook the NBA,” Donaghy says part of the reason he wanted to make a documentary was to get to the bottom of what was being done, as well as To the guilt of the NBA and “why it was swept under the rug so quickly.”
“And also because I think there are a lot of misconceptions,” Donaghy told USA TODAY Sports.
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One such misconception is that Donaghy presided over the 2002 Western Conference Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Sacramento Kings, with several calls being called into question. (He didn’t, but he did manage the infamous “hate in the mansion” brawl between the Indiana Pacers and the Detroit Pistons.)
“It’s all about gaming reform. There was a lot of things in the US Attorney’s office that were kind of dark,” Donaghy said. “And obviously the NBA and David Stern (former NBA commissioner who died in 2020) said I was Rogue judgment. These things are not true.”
While the NBA denied leaking details of the FBI’s investigation into gaming overhaul to the media in order to get early treatment for some damage control later, Donaghy warns fans, even today, to have a skeptical mind when watching the league’s telecast.
“I’ve been in the inner workings of it for 14 years and seen what we’re going to do and how star players are treated, and it was different depending on what was on the front and back of the shirts,” said Donaghy, who also claimed. The league wanted to extend the match series as a result.
“And the rules were not applied as they are written in the rulebook. I saw it then, and I still see it now.”
The FBI’s conclusion was that Donaghy had not tampered with games or made calls to profit from his gambling choices, with the NBA issuing its own report outlining the misconduct and finding that there was “no basis to disagree with the finding of the FBI and the Attorney General’s Office.” American”[t]There is no evidence that Donaghy deliberately made a certain judgment during the match in order to increase the likelihood that his choice of gambling was correct.”
In 2008, Donaghy pleaded guilty to two counts, conspiracy to engage in online fraud and transmitting betting information through interstate commerce to provide insider advice to friends at the games he was working on. He lost his livelihood, wife, and pension, and was sentenced to 15 months and three years of supervised release.
The FBI also looked at several other league officials, including Scott Foster, to see if it was a widespread problem, but that investigation was halted.
Donaghy, who is 55, lives in Florida, is divorced and a father of four, says he still gets to be recognized when he’s out but is in a good place these days. For the sake of income, he has appeared in Major League Wrestling portraying a crooked referee, and he also manages several rental properties.
“It has affected a lot of people,” he said, “but there’s not much I can do except to move forward and make better choices.”
A little regretful and certainly defiant about his thoughts on the NBA and Batista, when asked how a viewer watching the documentary can tell us when someone is being honest, the answer is repeated at every opportunity: He and the FBI are telling the truth, everyone else, not so much.
“I think Tommy and I are alike in our stories we’ve told. Anytime Batista opens his mouth to speak, you can just tell he’s lying,” Donaghy says frankly.