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Personal Foul: A First-Person Account of the Scandal That Rocked the NBA Paperback – December 3, 2009
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The media has speculated and sports fans have debated, but until now no one has known the real story. Personal Foul takes an in-depth look at former NBA referee Tim Donaghy and the betting scandal that rocked professional basketball. Containing never-before-seen documentation and correspondence between the league office, referees, coaches, players and owners, this is the decisive book that reveals exactly what was done and how it all happened. Which games were affected and how? Is it true that referees targeted particular players? Just how much did the NBA know and when? How did the mafia get involved? Personal Foul answers all of these questions and more. Thrilling and poignant, Personal Foul takes the reader on the journey of one man wrestling his own demons and shines a light on a culture of gambling and "directive" officiating in the NBA that promises to change the way sports fans view the game forever.
About the Author
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 new found 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 Donaghys start in the CBA, the NBAs official minor league. He officiated for three years in the CBA. Before his fourth year Donaghy was called to officiate in the NBA.
Tim Donaghy worked as an NBA referee for 13 seasons. During his career in the NBA, Donaghy officiated in 772 regular season games and 20 playoff games. Donaghy was also 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.
Donaghy resigned from the league on July 9, 2007 before reports of an investigation by the FBI for allegations that he bet on games. On August 15, 2007, Donaghy plead guilty to two federal charges related to the investigation. Donaghy was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison on July 29, 2008. He was released on November 4, 2009 after serving out his sentence.
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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.