When talking about the biggest conspiracy theories in NBA history, one must mention the Tim Donaghy referee scandal.
Tim Donaghy was an NBA referee for 13 years before resigning in 2007 amid a betting scandal that rocked the sport and tarnished the league’s reputation. He served 13 months in federal prison after admitting to taking money from a professional gambler in exchange for inside information on NBA operations – including games he refereed – but maintains his characterization as a “rogue, isolated criminal” was a damage-control tactic meant to conceal problems more widespread and insidious.
While this may not have a whole lot of conspiracy behind it anymore, it certainly has had the biggest impact on the NBA ever since.
After Tim Donaghy got arrested and eventually sent to jail, he alleged what everybody had been saying for years. The NBA had referees rigging games for the sake of ratings.
Donaghy alleged that the league had “company men” on the floor who would call fouls in order to either get series to go on longer or to give an edge to the bigger market team. It is safe to say that famed franchises were at an advantage, the money makers if you will.
The biggest example of a curious game? The 2002 Western Conference Finals, game six when Sacramento just couldn’t get a call to go their way, and the Lakers forced a game seven.
One of the referees for that game? Tim Donaghy. Here’s a reminder of that disgraceful game.