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    Personal Foul: A First-Person Account of the Scandal that Rocked the NBA Paperback – June 29, 2010

    by Tim Donaghy  (Author), Phil Scala (Foreword)4.5 out of 5 stars 141 ratings


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    About the Author

    Born in Havertown Pennsylvania, Tim Donaghy loved the game of basketball ever since he could remember. He received his love for the game from his father Gerry Donaghy, who had officiated at high school and collegiate level games for over thirty years. Since he lived so close to Philadelphia, he naturally became a 76ers fan. Some of his favorite players were Doug Collins and Mike Dunleavy. Donaghy attended Cardinal O’Hara High School in Springfield, Pennsylvania, where he played competitively during his four years spent there. Following high school, Donaghy graduated from Villanova University with a liberal arts degree in 1989. Although Donaghy had a degree after his graduation, he became unsatisfied with the direction in which his career was headed. One night while sitting at the kitchen table with his parents, his mother suggested that he look into a career in the NBA. It was all the motivation that he needed, and began to pursue his newfound dream job. Later as Tim Donaghy perfected his skills as a referee through training camps, he was noticed by the NBA supervisor of officials Darell Garretson. This eventually led to Tim Donaghy’s start in the CBA, the NBA’s official minor league. He officiated for three years in the CBA. Before his fourth year Donaghy was called to officiate in the NBA. From 1994 to 2007 Tim Donaghy worked for the NBA, officiating in 772 regular-season games and 20 playoff games. Donaghy was a participant in the NBA’s Read to Achieve program, for which he participated in an event at the Universal Charter school during the 2002 NBA Finals. His uniform number was 21.

    Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

    Tommy Martino drove a Lotus. So when he pulled up to the curb behind the wheel of a four-door Honda that night, I had a bad feeling. It was December 12, 2006, and I had been patiently waiting for Tommy in front of the Philadelphia Marriott near the airport. Reaching for the front passenger door, I glanced through the window and laid eyes on the last guy in the world I wanted to see. There he was, James “Ba Ba” Battista, flashing me a crooked smile that could only mean one thing: trouble.

    Like Tommy and I, Ba Ba was a student more than 20 years ago at Cardinal O’Hara High School in Springfield, Pennsylvania. Ba Ba played football with my older brother Jim and with Tommy’s brother Johnny. Back in those days, Ba Ba thought he was a big tough guy, always lifting weights and wearing tight shirts that showed off his pecs; I thought he was kind of goofy, a cartoon character who was constantly flexing his muscles. Ba Ba never saw a mirror he didn’t like. We were both Catholic school guys in small-town Pennsylvania and always friendly to each other, but I never considered him my friend. As a matter of fact, I thought I was better than he was. Better family, better looks, better athlete, better future. Little did I know that one day our names would be linked and that we would wear the same badge of dishonor for the rest of our lives.

    By contrast, Tommy was a true friend whom I maintained contact with over the years. He was the quintessential mob-guy wannabe, always dressed to the hilt with perfectly groomed black hair, a dark Mediterranean complexion, and flashy jewelry. Only 5’4″, he may have been slight of stature but he walked tall with style and confidence. Tommy had a heart of gold and a knack for being hilariously funny. And as for the women, he always wore the best-looking girls on his arm. It was hard not to like Tommy. Although I stayed in touch with Tommy, I hadn’t seen Ba Ba in years. I knew that Ba Ba was a bookie and a professional gambler; Tommy had told me that much. Apparently, Ba Ba was doing very well―a nice house, wife, and kids. Tommy, on the other hand, had a job as a computer technician at a local bank. He never went to college, but he was a smart guy and a straight shooter. At least that’s what I thought.

    Since graduation, I had been pursuing my passion oficiating basketball, and in 1994 I made it all the way to the top: I became a referee in the National Basketball Association. That same year, Tommy called me at my home in Havertown, Pennsylvania. “Ba Ba wants to talk to you,” he said. By then Ba Ba was heavily into gambling, a guy who in his own words “makes bets, places bets, and moves money.” He considered himself a professional money mover, and he actually listed his occupation as “professional gambler” on his tax forms.

    “Why does he want to talk to me?” I asked cautiously.

    “Are you gonna be on the up and up with the NBA games?” he asked me. In other words, would I be willing to give Tommy and Ba Ba inside information on how the games were going to come out?

    I was enraged and demanded that Tommy get Battista on the phone. “Don’t ever call me again,” I warned him. “I’ll turn you in.”

    They backed off, and a dozen years went by before Tommy raised the subject again. By 2006, Battista had become a high-level bookmaker with connections to the Gambino crime family. Tommy served as his driver, running him from Philly to New York to pick up or drop off large sums of cash. I knew Tommy was involved with Ba Ba, but I didn’t know the whole story. To be honest, I really didn’t want to know. It turns out that Battista, who had long since quit working out and had ballooned to over 300 pounds, was not an actual member of the Gambino crime family, but Tommy did talk about how he was “connected.” If Tommy and I were talking on the phone and he mentioned that Ba Ba was in the house, I’d tell him, “Okay, I’ll talk to you later.” To his credit, Tommy had told Ba Ba after that initial approach in 1994 that I was really pissed and that I wanted nothing to do with him. Supposedly, Ba Ba let it go…at least until that night at the Marriott.

    Over the years, I had become quite the sports gambler myself. Maybe it was all that downtime on the road as an NBA referee. Maybe I just needed something to fill my days. Whatever it was, I began betting on golf, baseball, football, and eventually pro basketball. Lots of people make bets, but for an NBA referee, gambling is seen as the kiss of death. The NBA was so concerned about the integrity of the game that it contractually required referees to abstain from all forms of gambling, with the sole exception of horse racing during the off-season summer months. No casinos, no cards, no office pools, not even a wager over a friendly game of golf. Nothing! For a good Catholic boy from Philly, an innocent wager might qualify as a venial sin, at worst. But in the NBA, gambling was a mortal sin punishable by eternal damnation. I knew the rules going in, but for reasons that to this day are dificult to articulate, I did it: I gambled. And worst of all, I bet on pro basketball.Read more

    Product detailsPaperback: 268 pagesPublisher: Four Daughters LLC (June 29, 2010)Language: EnglishISBN-10: 061536263XISBN-13: 978-0615362632Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.8 x 8.9 inchesShipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)Customer Reviews: 4.5 out of 5 stars   126 customer reviewsAmazon Best Sellers Rank: #91,862 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)#86 in Basketball Biographies (Books)#140 in Basketball (Books)#354 in Crime & Criminal BiographiesWould you like to tell us about a lower price?
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    tim donaghy david stern personal foul must read nba referee players and coaches organized crime good read sports fan western conference allen iverson great book michael jordan great read nba fan many people conference finals dick bavetta behind the scenes confirms my suspicionsTop ReviewsMost recentTop ReviewsMichael Perez5.0 out of 5 stars It’s important to know if the fix is in.Reviewed in the United States on May 28, 2018Format: Kindle EditionVerified PurchaseI feel this is an interesting and important book. I still enjoy the NBA but watched most avidly between 88 to the early 2000’s. In that time there were some play off series where I felt the officiating was abysmal and I guess I felt at times the fix could be in but maybe didn’t want to see it. Some series though always stood out to me, top of the list being a Sacramento-LA series Donaghy refers to in the book. Now, I’m convinced it happened. That Commissioner Stern felt ratings took precedence over fairness. I want to believe the present regime operates with integrity and haven’t yet seen anything egregious enough to make me doubt. This book is an eye opener and a worthwhile read for those of us who invest time and passion viewing and cheering. I care about the contest of talent and wills that sports provides. I’ll stop caring if it’s ultimately true that bloated executives already know the outcome before the game starts. It’s the height of arrogance that THEY’RE “giving” the people what they want, at the expense of the players who’ve worked at this their whole lives just to be cheated because they’re in a small market or don’t have the marquee names.3 people found this helpfulHelpfulCommentReport abuseOrangebang5.0 out of 5 stars Great read for an NBA fan.Reviewed in the United States on September 2, 2016Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchasegreat book, read it cover to cover. I loved reading about the game they played where the first ref to call a foul in a game has to buy dinner. LOL. I loved the break down of notable refs, and their tendencies, who they loved, who they hated. As an NBA fan, this is a must read because we see these refs every game, and we’ve always made note of their reputations, but this makes it all make sense.4 people found this helpfulHelpfulCommentReport abuseInon Zuckerman5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended true story that teaches a hard lessonReviewed in the United States on April 22, 2010Format: PaperbackVerified PurchaseI usually don’t read this type of autobiographical book, but this turned out to be a great read and a very important one for NBA fans in general. This book was written by Tim Donaghy, a veteran NBA referee whose gambling habits took the best of him in a wild roller-coaster that eventually led him to bet on NBA games which he himself worked in (he strongly claims that he didn’t fixed these game, but only had a good idea which team has the edge).

    This book is so important and mind opening experience, at least for me, as you read a genuine story about how a man who had it all: one of the best jobs in the world, over $250K salary and a great family. Still, having to much free time in his off-season led from harmless gambling with his country club bodies, through once in a while visits to casinos, gambling on other sports events and eventually to gambling on the NBA. This guy did not need the money, as he says the motivation for gambling was the rush and adrenalin, which apparently was lacking from his daily lives.

    I guess that he has some bad personality traits that allowed him to be sucked into that rabbit hole, but this book should serve as a warning sign to everyone. Even the rational, educated, well paid guy can under some circumstances be sucked to the dark side of gambling. The book takes us from the start of his gambling habits, though the investigation and up to the jail time.

    For the NBA fans I can say that you get allot of information about huge problems in the fairness of the competition. Nothing that cannot be fixed, or that caused me to stop watching and attending games, but still lots of information that is kept in the back of my mind when I follow games. For example, I was amazed to discover how Michael Jordan influenced the new referees in the games by bribing them fair and straight with free signed memorabilia. I was also amazed to discover the amount of nepotism that is widespread in the referee community. Another interesting stuff for NBA rats can be found in chapter 5 where he talks about different players and their personalities: for example, it was surprising to find Gary Payton in the top 5 list of the most “hated” players in the NBA.
    The only down point that I can find is that NBA fans who are looking for more beef about fixed games and wrong relationships will not get allot more than what was already published in Tim’s TV interviews (which all can be found on his personal website).

    To sum up, a highly recommended book which is both very informative to sports fans, and at the same time tells an interesting story that teaches the reader some important lessons about life in general. I world strongly recommend getting this books to teenagers who follow the NBA (and are reading books) for the same reasons presented above.Read more5 people found this helpfulHelpfulCommentReport abuseJoseph Barba5.0 out of 5 stars NBA Refs ExposedReviewed in the United States on July 21, 2010Format: PaperbackVerified PurchaseTim Donaghy is worth reading. Forget about what he did. He admits his mistake. What is important is what he has to say about the integrity of NBA officiating. If you watch as many games as I do, then you know that refs are not merely incompetent. They are willfully changing the outcomes of games on a regular basis. Sure, Tim Donaghy bet on NBA games, but that does not mean that he is lying when he tells us that refs make sure that games are kept close and that certain teams are all but guaranteed a win. There were no surprises in Donaghy’s book, just justification for what we have long suspected. Donaghy named a few names, but he could have named many more. I suspect that many of you who read this could add to Donaghy’s list, too…and provide examples! Most of what Donaghy writes about has the ring of truth because we have seen honest officiating compromised over and over again! Buy this book! You won’t be disappointed.10 people found this helpfulHelpfulCommentReport abuseScott Oliphant4.0 out of 5 stars To fix or not to fix…Reviewed in the United States on February 20, 2011Format: PaperbackVerified PurchaseI’ll never forget game 6 of the 2002 Western Conference finals and watching Sacramento’s lead crumble to the will of a referee crew bent on seeing the Lakers advance. This was painfully obvious to even the most casual basketball fan. Anybody who’s watched the NBA extensively or bet NBA games can tell you the refereeing is at best wildy inconsistent. Donaghy exposes what most fans were already thinking or already instinctively knew – NBA refereeing is corrupt. Donaghy takes the reader on a wild ride starting with his budding career as an NBA referee supported by a loving family and everything a man could ask for to ending up an emotionally bankrupt compulsive gambler working for the mob and eventually an inmate in federal prison. Along the way he fingers numerous NBA referees for unethical refereeing practices and unearths a culture of corruption the league turns a blind eye to and in some cases encourages. Donaghy comes off as mostly credible but at times you wonder if you’re really getting the full story or how much of this is hyped up to sell copy. The book is entertaining and a quick, breezy read. I laughed out loud several times at some of the antidotes involving referees, players, and coaches. I would recommend this book to NBA fans, sports bettors, or anyone interested in gambling addiction.5 people found this helpfulHelpfulCommentReport abuseSee all reviews from the United States

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    Keith White5.0 out of 5 stars AwesomeReviewed in the United Kingdom on June 17, 2019Format: PaperbackVerified PurchaseBrilliant brilliant book. So well written and some juicy secrets the NBA doesn’t want u to knowHelpfulReport abuse

    dirty.south5.0 out of 5 stars Interessantes BuchReviewed in Germany on August 1, 2011Format: PaperbackVerified PurchaseTim Donaghy ist eine umstrittene Person. Insofern muss man auch sehen, inwiefern seine zahlreichen Aussagen in diesem Buch auch der Wahrheit entsprechen. Nichtsdestotrotz ist es ein sehr unterhaltsames Buch, das vorallem natürlich für NBA interessierte Menschen viele, zum teil witzige, Anektdoten aus dem alltäglichen Lebens eines NBA Schieri beinhaltet. Thematisiert wird aber auch die Wett-und Spielsucht von Donaghy.

    Das Buch lässt sich in english übrigens sehr einfach lesen.
    Von mir gibts für dieses unterhaltsame Buch 5 SterneHelpfulReport abuseTranslate review to English

    Amazon Customer5.0 out of 5 stars Very under appreciatedReviewed in Canada on February 22, 2016Format: PaperbackVerified PurchaseReally good, under rated and under appreciated book.
    Beyond the useful and fun basketball knowledge, Tim delves deeply into what it means to have a gambling addiction.HelpfulReport abuse

    Amazon Customer5.0 out of 5 stars Very Interesting ReadReviewed in Canada on March 14, 2017Format: PaperbackVerified PurchaseGreat book, shows that the NBA is decided by officials in many instances.

    WWE referees are more competentHelpfulReport abuse

    Philippe5.0 out of 5 stars Great.Reviewed in Canada on November 30, 2019Format: PaperbackVerified PurchaseAs described.
    Arrived on time.HelpfulReport abuse

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    1. NBA ref that made 1 billion for the mafia here the book movie out next month


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