Tim Donaghy, Blowing the Whistle or Blowing Smoke

Joe DuffyAnalyst IJune 12, 2008

As always, we will allow others to engage in rampant speculation about Tim Donaghy’s latest bombshell finger pointing. We will continue to give our fair and balanced take.

Mind you, in lieu of a smoking gun, we are all engaging in conjecture, but unlike others, I only claim to have educated theories, not the definitive rejoinder.

Let’s rid ourselves of one apocryphal contention.  I have heard enough of this “we didn’t believe Jose Conseco either” balderdash. This is not to say I accepted every name and detail from the get-go.

However, the before/after comparisons of sundry players girth, corroborated by rapidly ascending power statistics, had me long previously convinced of MLB’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” steroid policy.

Whether or not such circumstantial evidence would hold up in a court of law is irrelevant.  The visual and statistical evidence that existed long before Conseco’s caseboundis are infinitely more damning than any so-far undocumented innuendo Donaghy has thrown against the wall.

Until Donaghy presents supporting evidence, here is my learned take. The rogue criminal merely cherry-picked several high profile NBA officiating controversies and decided to retro fit insinuation with the intent to intimidate the NBA from aggressively seeking punitive action.

Yet he is fortunate enough to possess likely legitimate, though irrelevant to his criminal charges, tattletale scuttlebutt that conspiracy theorists will accept as proof that the more salacious whistle-blowing (pun unintentional) is valid.

As an example, the jailbird alleges, “Team 3 lost the first two games in the series and Team 3’s Owner complained to NBA officials. Team 3’s Owner alleged that referees were letting a Team 4 player get away with illegal screens. NBA Executive Y told Referee Supervisor Z that the referees for that game were to enforce the screening rules strictly against that Team 4 player. Referee Supervisor Z informed the referees about his instructions. As an alternate referee for that game, Tim also received these instructions.”

Coaches and players make game-to-game adjustments. The fact that officials also view game film in order to correct errors, even on a night-by-night basis, is every bit as commendable as it is believable. Nice try convict, but thanks for the big “so what”.

He also alleges that in violation of league policy, officials at times socialized with team hierarchy or solicited players for autographs. While it’s quite plausible a referee requested a star player’s John Hancock for their grandson, this is the equivalent of proving a person jaywalked as evidence he is guilty of murder.

Okay Tim, we are sure officials didn’t obey the NBA’s overbearing guidelines infallibly, but even if said squealing proves accurate, it only demonstrates your fellow zebras human, not illicit. Score another “so what” for the inmate.

Sadly though, early returns of the court of public opinion suggest Donaghy’s indoctrination has been met with initial success. While Donaghy skillfully planted confirmation bias to put the NBA on the defensive, the burden of proof is on him to substantiate, not the league to negate.

“Innocent until proven guilty” may not be a burden of proof that applies at the collective water coolers around the country, but the desperado seems to be given a lot more credibility than he has earned.

In the book, Propaganda and Persuasion, authors Garth S. Jowett and Victoria O’Donnell define propaganda as “the deliberate, systematic attempt to shape perceptions, manipulate cognitions, and direct behavior to achieve a response that furthers the desired intent of the propagandist.”

In lieu of a scinitlla of even an air of reality, it appears window dressing is all Donaghy can deliver.  

Joe Duffy is the top sports handicapper in America and CEO of OffshoreInsiders.com


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