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Irish Coffee: NBA conspiracy theories 10.13.10 at 10:28 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …

It’s time for a conspiracy theory. I’m sure you’ve all heard about Game 6 of the 2002 Western Conference finals between the Kings and Lakers — one of several games former NBA ref Tim Donaghy accused the NBA of rigging in order to squeeze an extra game out of the series. Well, after yesterday’s unrelated arrest of one of the Lakers-Kings Game referees, let’s take a look at the aftermath … again.

  • On July 20, 2007, New York Post columnist Murray Weiss reported an FBI investigation into Donaghy for betting on NBA games he officiated.
  • On Feb. 11, 2008, one Kings-Lakers Game 6 referee, Bob Delaney, spoke with ESPN about his upcoming book, “Covert: My Years Infiltrating the Mob.” The former New Jersey State Police trooper admitted to these criminal activities during his investigation: “stolen property, loan sharking, gambling, purchasing of guns.”
  • On June 11, 2008, The New York Times cited court documents in which Donaghy called out NBA executives and referees for manipulating games, including the 2002 series in question. Keep in mind, Donaghy had already pleaded guilty to conspiring with gamblers at this point.
  • On June 13, 2008, we learned from ESPN’s Chris Sheridan that the FBI questioned at least two former NBA referees about another Lakers-Kings Game 6 ref, Dick Bavetta, more than they did Donaghy. In that report, the game’s third ref, Tim Bernhardt, said: “I stand by my calls in that game. I was right on. I believe in Dick Bavetta, and I believe in Bob Delaney, and I believe in the NBA for that matter.”
  • On Dec. 8, 2009, in an interview with Dennis & Callahan, Donaghy said, “I had many conversations with Dick Bavetta and he claimed that he was the NBA’€™s go-to guy and he was put on certain games to make sure a certain team win.”
  • On Oct. 12, 2010, according to WFIE.com, Bernhardt was arrested in Indiana for violating a restraining order taken out against him by his ex-girlfriend and allegedly burglarizing her residence.

So, to recap the facts, in the last three years the refereeing trio of Kings-Lakers Game 6 has: a) admitted to gambling with the mob, albeit during an investigation as a New Jersey State Police officer (Delaney); b) been the subject of the FBI’s questioning during their investigation into NBA referees (Bavetta); and c) been arrested and charged with burglary and violating a restraining order (Bernhardt).

While none of those incidents implicates any of the three officials or directly relates to the outcome of any NBA game, including Kings-Lakers Game 6, I give you this — in Delaney’s own words – from an interview with ESPN’s Bob Ley: “I have dealt with criminals and informants, and I know full well they are capable of doing and saying anything.”

Now, I know there are more holes in this story than there were in Sonny Corleone‘s car, but that’s why it’s called a conspiracy theory, right?

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