You remember Tim Donaghy, don't you? He's the former NBA referee who not only participated in gambling on NBA games in which he officiated, but went to prison for it.
During his sentencing, word leaked out that Donaghy informed the FBI that the NBA routinely instructed its referees to manipulate the outcomes of key games.
Of course, the NBA denied these allegations. The league claimed Donaghy had no credibility. After all, he was a criminal. Never mind the fact that the league, which often boasted of the thoroughness of its background checks on its officiating crew members, employed the man for 13 years.
Now on June 10th came word in the form of an official press release that Donaghy would be released from prison and sent to a halfway house to complete his sentence.
But another piece of information in that press release was a bit more interesting: Donaghy was beaten to the point of requiring surgery by a fellow inmate in November of 2008. An inmate with "mob ties."
If this is true, there is potentially even more to Donaghy's story that has yet to come to light.
Never before were Donaghy's gambling associates considered to be linked to the mafia. Not even the FBI alluded to such connections. Yet to those who know and understand illegal gambling and bookmaking, this revelation should come as no surprise.
Illegal sports gambling (meaning your friendly neighborhood bookmaker) is often a mob run activity. And considering the literal billions of dollars wagered illegally on sporting events each year, it is one of the mafia's most profitable endeavors.
Why should this concern the NBA and its fans? Because if Donaghy was indeed mob connected and perhaps even controlled, we're dealing with a whole new level of corruption within the league.
If the mob could sink their hooks into one ref, no doubt they could do it with another, or with a coach, player, or even all of the above
In fact, it is a well known fact that the mafia has historically been behind several college level basketball fixes and point shaving scandals. To think that this has not happened on the pro level, even though there hasn't been a major revelation of such activity, is naive.
Perhaps Donaghy was just the tip of the ugly iceberg. Perhaps there are more Tim Donaghys lurking on the hardwood that have yet to be revealed. If there are, the NBA is not keen to expose them.
It is possible that Donaghy's prison beat down could have been just that, a beat down. Or, it acted as a message sent.
Donaghy is reportedly working on a book detailing his 13 years in the NBA, a majority of which was spent gambling. Likely there will be many behind-the-scenes revelations, including more on how the NBA asked its referees to manipulate games for the league's profit.
But after this attack, how much information about the mob may make that final draft? Was Donaghy "instructed" to keep quiet about the mob's ties to the NBA? Only Donaghy can say for certain.
Meanwhile the NBA will dread the release of its former referee's book. For a whole new round of conspiracy theories will be hatched on that day.
Will Tim Donaghy become the NBA's version of Jose Canseco? I, for one, can't wait to find out.