Tim Donaghy’s Book Mentions Refs Interfering With A Spurs v. Nuggets Game


We all hear about NBA conspiracies.  The Spurs and their fans are no strangers to them.  NBA schedule makers hurting the Spurs, Stern fixing it so Spurs lose in the playoffs, etc.

However in Tim Donaghy’s book “Blowing The Whistle: The Culture of Fraud in the NBA”, Donaghy mentions an incident involving himself and Dick Bavetta scheming to fix a game between our Spurs and the Denver Nuggets in 2003-2004.

Excerpts were released and it is something I am sure the NBA does not want its fans to read.

Here is the excerpt:

Bavetta told me Denver needed the win and that it would look bad for the staff and the league if the Nuggets missed the playoffs by one game. There were still a few games left on the schedule before the end of the season, and the standings could potentially change. But on that day in Oakland, Bavetta looked at me and casually stated, “Denver will win if they need the game. That’s why I’m on it.”

I was thinking, How is Denver going to win on the road in San Antonio? At the time, the Spurs were arguably the best team in the league. Bavetta answered my question before it was asked.

“Duncan will be on the bench with three fouls within the first five minutes of the game,” he calmly stated.

As it turned out, Denver didn’t need the win after all; they locked up a spot in the playoffs before they got to San Antonio. In a twist of fate, it was the Spurs that ended up needing the win to have a shot at the division title, and Bavetta generously accommodated. In our pregame meeting, he talked about how important the game was to San Antonio and how meaningless it was to Denver, and that San Antonio was going to get the benefit of the calls that night. Armed with this inside information, I called Jack Concannon before the game and told him to bet the Spurs.

To no surprise, we won big. San Antonio blew Denver out of the building that evening, winning by 26 points. When Jack called me the following morning, he expressed amazement at the way an NBA game could be manipulated. Sobering, yes; amazing, no. That’s how the game is played in the National Basketball Association

If you take a look at the boxscore from that game, Duncan did get two fouls and the Spurs had more free-throws (53) than Denver (18) and won the game.

Here is another excerpt regarding the Spurs and the Phoenix Suns.

My favorite Tommy Nunez story is from the 2007 playoffs when the San Antonio Spurs were able to get past the Phoenix Suns in the second round. Of course, what many fans didn’t know was that Phoenix had someone working against them behind the scenes. Nunez was the group supervisor for that playoff series, and he definitely had a rooting interest.

Nunez loved the Hispanic community in San Antonio and had a lot of friends there. He had been a referee for 30 years and loved being on the road; in fact, he said that the whole reason he had become a group supervisor was to keep getting out of the house. So Nunez wanted to come back to San Antonio for the conference finals. Plus, he, like many other referees, disliked Suns owner Robert Sarver for the way he treated officials. Both of these things came into play when he prepared the referees for the games in the staff meetings. I remember laughing with him and saying, “You would love to keep coming back here.” He was pointing out everything that Phoenix was able to get away with and never once told us to look for anything in regard to San Antonio. Nunez should have a championship ring on his finger.

If this is all true, then it might verify our fears as NBA fans that the league tinkers in the outcome of games.  And by the way, the NBA has threatened to sue the publisher.

Think Donaghy is full of it?  Leave us your comments.

Thanks to John at RedsArmy for the head up on this Spurs related news.