Now that the details are starting to come out regarding referee Tim Donaghy's scandal involving gambling and organized crime, we're getting a good idea of how bad it could turn out to be for the NBA.
Forget the games he reffed, or that now the NBA has to have a hand in keeping this guy alive. Think about this tidbit of info that was made public over the weekend.
"The NBA assigned a private investigator on disgraced referee Tim Donaghy more than a year ago, the New York Daily News reported, but then let him work games all season long anyway, friends and neighbors said Sunday."
1 year? One year ago the NBA was suspicious enough about this guy that it hired a private investigator to check up on him. He even went so far as to interview Donaghy's neighbors about his gambling habits.
"Officials had the investigator question neighbors and friends of Donaghy about what they knew about his gambling habits -- especially his penchant for the Borgata in Atlantic City.
"[The investigator] asked, 'Does he gamble?' " said Kit Anstey, 60, of West Chester, Pa. "I said, 'Yes.' "
So someone within the NBA knew that Donaghy was involved with gambling, and that there was a possibility that it was affecting his work for the NBA.
Then, they not only let him referee the regular season, but the playoffs as well. Whether or not his calls in the Game 3 matchup between San Antonio and Phoenix were because of his gambling habits doesn't matter much now because perception is reality, and right now the perception is that Donaghy fixed games to help organized criminals make money. And the worst part is that the current perception is that the NBA knew there was a problem, but they let Donaghy continue to referee games. Hopefully, for the NBA's sake, that perception doesn't become reality.