Ex-NBA Ref Tim Donaghy Jailed for Betting to Officiate Wrestling Match in MLW

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistOctober 20, 2020

Former NBA referee Tim Donaghy exits Brooklyn federal court following his sentencing, Tuesday, July 29, 2008, in New York. Donaghy was sentenced to 15 months in prison Tuesday for setting off a gambling scandal that tarnished the league's reputation and raised questions about the integrity of its officiating. (AP Photo/ Louis Lanzano)
Louis Lanzano/Associated Press

Disgraced former NBA official Tim Donaghy is set to serve as a referee as part of an upcoming storyline for the MLW professional wrestling promotion.

According to Justin Barrasso of Sports Illustrated, Donaghy said the following regarding his upcoming role with MLW: "Pro wrestling is entertainment, and I always joked the NBA was a form of entertainment and I compared it a little bit to pro wrestling behind the scenes. When I was growing up, I always enjoyed pro wrestling, guys like Hulk Hogan and Ivan Putski. I thought it would be fun to get involved and see where it goes."

Donaghy was sentenced to 15 months in prison in 2008 on gambling charges after admitting to betting on NBA games despite his status as a referee.

The 53-year-old Donaghy served as an NBA official from 1994 to 2007, and his involvement in MLW will mark the first time he has been a professional referee in any capacity in 13 years.

Donaghy added: "If there is a good response, who knows where it can go from here. I'm willing to do whatever I can to make the show entertaining and fun for everyone watching, and I'm excited to be a part of it."

Per Barrasso, MLW's plan is to create a storyline that features Donaghy as the personal referee for Richard Holliday.

The personal referee storyline has been done before in wrestling; the nWo employed crooked referee Nick Patrick for a period of time in WCW in the late 1990s.

While WWE, AEW, Impact Wrestling and Ring of Honor are the best-known American wrestling promotions, MLW has made some headway in recent years as well. It has a television deal with beIN Sports and can also be watched on Fubo Sports Network or DAZN.

New episodes of MLW haven't aired in months, but MLW CEO Court Bauer said Aug. 31 that it will return to the airwaves in early November.


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