Throughout the years, there have been several nba referees that fans don’t agree with, from Scott Foster to Joey Crawford. Yes, it’s typical for fans to chant, “Ref, you suck,” when a referee gets a call wrong. But perhaps no one stirred up more controversy in the early 2000s than Tim Donaghy.

Tim Donaghy had a passion for basketball like no other. Growing up in Havertown, Pennsylvania, there wasn’t a lot of access to basketball until he found his ticket in… Refereeing high school basketball. Before joining the NBA, Donaghy was a high school basketball referee for five years before joining the continental basketball Association. It was there that individuals from the NBA saw his tape and decided to invite him to a referee training camp ( yes, those exist).

It was there that hit the big time. From there, Tim Donaghy became a controversial referee and drew the ire of many fans, but perhaps he is best known for his gambling scandal that plagued the latter years of his career.

On August 15, 2007, he pleaded guilty to gambling on NBA games he would referee. In the Netflix documentary about the scandal, he admitted to having friends call and ask him about who to play, and he would often disguise the team with the name of the city he was in (for example, if someone wanted to make a play on the Miami Heat, he would say either the name of the city or a code word, such as hot to signal to his friend, to put his money on the heat) it was a pretty smart strategy… Until it wasn’t.

Since then, Tim Donaghy has been banned from the NBA for life and is essentially blacklisted for the rest of his life. Nowadays, you have to be a real NBA fan to know who he is. That is how much they had tried to scrub from Their website or from fans gaining knowledge of it. Kind of drastic, in my opinion, but you had to protect a league’s integrity, so in some way, I understand.

Currently, he lives in Florida with his wife and children, and he has taken up a job as a referee in Major League Wrestling, which is a professional wrestling company. There, he gets involved in the scripted matches and has the gambling story intertwined as part of his character.

To close out, in my opinion, at the time, I think what Tim Donaghy did was extremely wrong, but nowadays, I don’t think that such drastic measures would be taken because betting is legal in some states, so I would’ve liked to have seen how this would’ve hypothetically played out in today’s society.

Would Tim Donaghy be in trouble, or would he be celebrated? Would he be a spokesperson for DraftKings or FanDuel? Just think of how it could’ve been had he not taken such a risk. Would he be a superstar in today’s NBA? I guess we’ll never know, as that ship sailed long ago.

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