One former NBA referee discussed his role in betting on who could give Portland Trail Blazers big man Rasheed Wallace a technical foul first.
Longtime Portland Trail Blazers supporters likely couldn’t help but crack a smile if they tuned in to the most recent edition of Let’s Get Technical with Rasheed Wallace and Bonzi Wells. It took two decades, but vindication may have finally been had.
Rasheed Wallace spent the lion’s share of his professional career drawing technical fouls at a magnetizing rate and accruing the label of “hot head” and “thug” because of it. But as former NBA referee Tim Donaghy shed light on, that wasn’t completely his own doing.
Donaghy, known in more hardcore NBA circles for his role as a pariah who spoke publicly on the NBA’s officiating and gambling ties, was particularly transparent on those subjects during this episode. One quote about how referees would often wager at the expense of Portland Trail Blazers players was especially noteworthy:
"“And speaking of those technical fouls, you know, especially with you, depending on who was refereeing the game, if I was with a couple of my buddies, you know, we’d throw $20 on the table when we had a team like Portland and you, and we’d say, ‘The first one to bang Rasheed with a technical foul gets $60.’So, there were a lot of games that, you know, went on behind the scenes. When you say you deserve those technicals, eh, probably a couple of them were given out a little bit quicker than they were for the next guy because of a simple $20 bet in the locker room.”"
This flows in line with much of what Donaghy had been speaking and even writing about since he was released from jail in November of 2009. He served 11 months in a Florida prison camp for his involvement in the NBA’s referee gambling scandal.
In this dialogue, Donaghy discussed the life of what he referred to as a “company man.” Officials who desired the opportunity to rise up the ranks, earn higher paychecks, and officiate Playoffs and Finals games needed to ensure that they followed higher-ups’ instructions.
He listed the Kings vs. Lakers’ 2002 Western Conference Finals series, the 2000 Blazers vs. Lakers’ series, and the 2006 NBA Finals between the Mavericks and Heat, among a few others.
Donaghy also admitted that the average fan wouldn’t be as interested in watching a Trail Blazers vs. Pacers Finals, or Kings vs. Nets, for example, citing David Stern’s infamous statement of wanting to see the Lakers vs. Lakers as his dream Finals matchup.
Wallace and Wells appeared at peace mentally, knowing that some of the labels and technical fouls they received — as well as the dehumanizing “Jail Blazers” label — weren’t completely their doing.
But, on the flip side, they lamented knowing how many endorsement deals they sacrificed at the hands of an NBA referee’s fun or how their reputations were altered.
This week’s episode of Let’s Get Technical was riveting, particularly for those interested in learning more about the NBA’s standing in fixing certain games to appeal to market intrigue in the early-2000s. It deserves a listen in its entirety, and can be found through the above video.