Bucks Diary

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Stern unconvincing on Donaghy scandal

Frankly I was expecting a bit more from Commissioner David Stern's news conference than I got. Instead of seeing the media savvy commisioner that we have all come to expect, in this moment of crisis I saw an unusually rattled and forlorn Stern. His statement was meandering and mumbled, and basically did nothing more than reiterate the safeguard system the NBA already has in place -- the very system that failed to detect Tim Donaghy's indiscretions. In an unbelievably tin-eared spin on this serious situation, the Commissioner seemed to simply throw up his hands and imply that if one determined individual, such as Donaghy, wanted to get away with undermining the integrity of the Association, he could do it. Stern pointed to the FBI and CIA "rogue agent" scandals of the past as proof of his assertion.

That's not what I wanted to hear. First of all, Donaghy is hardly in the same clandestine league as an Aldrich Aimes. His strange personal behavior should have signalled him out as an obvious problem as far back as two years ago. Yet the NBA claims they investigated him and found nothing amiss. How did this extensive network of security that Stern laid out, which included credit and financial oversights, fail to notice that this referee had serious issues that called into question his fitness as a decisionmaker? Second, as a fan I can't buy into Stern's pessimistic acceptance of the fact that a determined referee could pull something like this off in the future. Especially when you consider the caliber of the guy who just pulled it off. Donaghy was no genius. He was a lone basketball referee who was stupid enough and reckless enough to involve himself with the Gambino family, for God's sakes! Guys like that need to be found out and stopped early on by the Association, not the FBI.

All in all, David Stern's first attempt to spin this dangerous scandal was, in my opinion, an airball. He needs to hunker down, rethink the matter, and come up with some sort of tougher measures that he can lay before the fans to assure them that the integrity of the game's officials will be guaranteed. Until he does that, this scandal will continue to fester.


At July 24, 2007 at 1:22 PM, Anonymous wvpv said...

What exactly were you expecting our of the news conference? An announcement about 24/7 surveillance of the officials?

I thought he succeeded in telling everyone that 1) that it's a serious matter, 2) the NBA already has many safeguards in place and they had dealt with Donaghy before through those channels, and 3) they were cooperating with the authorities.

Really...how much can he say with the FBI investigating?

I'm pretty sure that the stern (pun intended), hunkering down measures will come later.

What I thought was stupid were the annoying "how does it make you feel" questions by moron reporters.

At July 24, 2007 at 2:59 PM, Blogger Blogmaster said...

You know, I hate those stupid sort of open-ended questions they ask too. But I've learned that it is more of less a tactic that reporters use to try to get the person out of their predetermined answers. If you noticed one such question produced the only real newsworthy moment of the conference.

Someone asked Stern, essentially, how do you know that he is a criminal if he hasn't yet been charged with anything, and Stern sort of whispered "His lawyer has indicated to us that he is seriously considering a plea deal." That was probably more than Stern wanted to divulge, but it caught him wrong-footed, and he was forced into the only answer he knew to give.

As to what I wanted to hear, I'll tell you what I didn't want to hear. I didn't want to hear how great the NBA's security system is, because it obviously was deficient. I didn't want to hear that there is no way to prevent such things from occuring in the future, because that obviously prolongs this problem indefinetely. And I certainly didn't want to hear that they had previously investigated and cleared Donaghy on 4 seperate incidents where his character came into question.

Finally, the best piece of information I heard all morning came from former Ref Mike Mathis who essentially said the system in place at the moment is an absolute joke. They have refs being overseen by people who have virtually no background in refereeing whatsoever.

That type of candid admission, followed by a plan of corrective actions, is what I wanted to hear from Stern. I don't care if the NBA "did the best we could" as Stern put it, their best wasn't good enough, and has put my favorite sports league in jeopardy.

At July 24, 2007 at 3:43 PM, Anonymous paulpressey25 said...

Good to see you putting the heat on Stern. I agree with your conclusions.

The interesting thing to me was when Stern was asked if his vaunted "ref monitoring" system was also looking for "suspicious patterns, etc." and Stern said no.

If you aren't looking for patterns in your calls that might indicate a corrupt ref, what good is the "monitoring system"

The bottom line is that officiating in the NBA has not been uniform for decades. Calls are made when convenient depending on who you are and what team you play for and whether you are a road or home team. That is why we are in this mess.

If we had uniform officiating, a night like the Heat-Knicks where the FT discrepancy was 39-8 would have stood out more.

At July 24, 2007 at 3:51 PM, Blogger Blogmaster said...

The game that came instantly to mind for me as a Bucks fan was the game at New York in March of last season when an unbelievably bad phantom call at the end of the game cost the Bucks a victory. I went back and looked at the boxscore and Donaghy was not involved. But doubts like that are going to keep cropping up in fans' minds until Stern makes it clear that this kind of situation can never happen again.

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