Tim Donaghy Hasn't Earned Right To Write Book

Burton DeWitt@bsd987Senior Analyst IDecember 18, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 28:  Kobe Bryant #8 of the Los Angeles Lakers talks to referee Tim Donaghy #21, in the first half against the Phoenix Suns in Game Three of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2006 NBA Playoffs April 28, 2006 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

Well, we've all done it. We've all fallen in.

Just two years ago, we were all vilifying Tim Donaghy, lambasting him for starting one of the largest scandals in the history of American professional sport. He was the emblem of everything we thought was wrong with the NBA, the beacon we thought would tear apart the league and force it to rebuild with more honest principles. At the very least, we hoped Donaghy would have to pay, would have to live the rest of his life in misery atoning for how he stained the NBA.

And now, just two years later, we have given Donaghy another out.

Tim Donaghy's book, Personal Foul: A First-Person Account of the Scandal That Rocked the NBA , published just over two weeks ago, is Donaghy's attempt at salvation. While it hasn't been Harry Potter , it still has cracked the top 100 at Amazon.com and currently sits at No. 3 in basketball and inside the top 300 overall in total sales.

Moreover, major television companies have brought Donaghy in for major shows, no doubt giving him appearance fees, with the most high-profile being a Dec. 6 appearance on 60 Minutes .

On 60 Minutes , Donaghy attacked himself for what he did, trying to show that he knows he messed up.

"My big mistake was crossing that line where I bet in the first place," Donaghy told CBS's Bob Simon, after Simon asked if Donaghy's biggest mistake was getting involved with the mob.

“I certainly made some terrible choices to do what I did, but the culture that existed within the game of the NBA enabled me to be able to do this at a very successful rate,” Donaghy said.

And that's that. We're supposed to forgive Donaghy, buy his book, relish in how he [supposedly] rips the NBA, and move on?

Yeah, and I bet you bought O.J. Simpson's If I Did It , too.

No, Donaghy doesn't deserve the right to make his money back just by writing and speaking. At least not yet, just like Simpson did not in 2006 when they cancelled his book deal.

Donaghy deserves a few years, maybe four, maybe five, maybe 10 or 15, to work a menial job, to contribute to society, to make up for his attempt to ruin the NBA. At the very least, he shouldn't be coming out of prison and making his money back just like that.

And please don't think I'm comparing what Donaghy did to what Simpson did; Simpson took two lives, never showed remorse, probably still doesn't believe what he did was wrong, and that is incomparable. I'm just using that as an example, as a launching pad into an argument against Donaghy.

But just because Donaghy's crime isn't nearly as bad as murder does not mean Donaghy suddenly deserves the opportunity to make a fortune writing a book and going around the country as a motivational speaker. That's what's wrong with us; that's what's wrong with American society.

We allow convicted felons out of prison, and, if they were high profile enough and didn't commit a blue-collar crime or murder, we let them come to our schools and talk to our children to help them steer clear of their wrong path.

Meanwhile, they're pocketing a few grand each time, making more in a month than many Americans will see in a year.

I remember someone coming to my school who got paralyzed driving drunk in an accident that also injured two other people. He was kept out of prison only because he was too injured to go, and now is making a killing going around the northeast, saying how driving drunk ruined his life.

And he deserves that? He deserves the right to make some money because he almost killed a few people, including himself?

While what these people are doing is noble, it doesn't make it right.

And the fact that Donaghy is most likely going to do the same thing—go to schools all over the country and say how getting involved in organized crime landed him in federal prison and how he lost it all.

You might believe that because Donaghy has lost it all and spent time in prison, that he has paid his debt. And I'm not blind; I see the point. Donaghy has paid something. But that doesn't mean he deserves an out right now.

Let Donaghy work in a food kitchen for the homeless for a couple years, or pick up garbage, or something. Make him earn the right to say he's lost everything. Losing his home, and wife and kids is a lot, but that comes with the territory of being a convicted felon.

He's just out of prison where they made him breakfast every day, they cleaned his clothing, and they provided him a place to sleep. Correction, we provided him all these things. And now he's out of prison, and, because he's so high-profile, he can make all his money back—all the money his wife took in the settlement—and live comfortably again?


Tim Donaghy may have served time, but he hasn't served enough time to deserve to be rich again. And if you go out and buy his book, which, judging from the stats, a lot of you did, then you're just contributing to his resurrection.

I know you might be curious, but Donaghy has not deserved your money. Not yet, anyway.

So please, for the love of decency, don't buy his book. Don't feed into Donaghy's resurrection.  If you want to know what he has to say that much, I'll tell you when the time is right.

Oh screw it, Donaghy will be rolling in money in just a few years' time.

We've all fallen in way too fast.


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