Refs spokesman criticizes Donaghy, alleges threats
NEW YORK (AP) – The lead negotiator and spokesman for the NBA’s referees says Tim Donaghy made threats against him, and that the disgraced former official’s accusations about his colleagues shouldn’t be believed because he is a “compulsive liar.”
Lamell McMorris said Thursday that Donaghy also threatened fellow referees, whom he has accused of misconduct during a series of interviews this week.
“His attacks have been malicious and his claims continue to be unfounded,” McMorris said in a statement. “Donaghy is a convicted felon and a compulsive liar with loyalty to no one but himself.”
McMorris declined to give specifics of the threats, but indicated to The Associated Press they came when Donaghy called his office after McMorris put out statements on behalf of the referees after the Donaghy betting scandal broke in 2007.
McMorris also cited Donaghy’s “pattern of intimidation” and issues with his temper, including a dispute with his neighbors while living in Philadelphia that the NBA investigated. His statement said Donaghy’s life “has been marked by a pattern of dishonesty,” noting that he was forced to return to prison after he was accused of violating terms of his probation.
This was a difficult week for the referees union, with Donaghy appearing on “60 Minutes” and ESPN to give interviews to coincide with the release of his book. Donaghy insisted he never had to make calls to affect games he bet on because he knew of biases certain officials had against certain players that would influence the way the games would be called.
But McMorris said investigations into those claims found no criminal activity by anyone other than Donaghy, who admitted betting on games he officiated and was sentenced to 15 months for conspiracy to engage in wire fraud and transmitting betting information through interstate commerce.
“The release of his new book and his various media interviews are more attempts by Tim Donaghy to cast a shadow over the NBA,” McMorris said.
“The referees of the NBA have fully cooperated with all federal and internal investigations regarding Donaghy’s unfounded allegations. These investigations have shown that, other than Donaghy, no referee has ever bet on an NBA game, shared confidential game information with other gamblers, or sought to direct a game’s outcome for personal gain.”
Messages seeking comment were left late Thursday night with Executive Prisons Consultants, which had been advising Donaghy.
The NBA has said it will forward any new claims by Donaghy to its investigators for further review. McMorris said the referees are committed to working with the league to uphold their professionalism.
“Tim Donaghy’s actions reflect the kind of man he is, and those actions certainly do not reflect the character exhibited on a day-to-day basis by the honest people that currently make up the NBA officiating staff,” McMorris said.