• RSS loading...

"Personal Foul: A First-Person Account of the Scandal that Rocked the NBA" by Tim Donaghy

From the former referee himself, Donaghy tells all about his personal life to his career in the NBA. He also talks about his eerie run-in with a "good fella" and the allegations he underwent and got away with while working the games.

After a great read from Tuohy's The Fix Is In, I went and picked up Tim Donaghy's book wondering what he had to say—an ex-referee known for the biggest blunder in NBA history.

Donaghy has led a modest life, and fulfilled his dream becoming a referee. However, it was his need for more thrills and excitement that got him. Not just that, one of his old high school classmates, especially James "Ba Ba" Battista, apparently had ties with the Gambino family (!) extorting Donaghy having found out that he works as a referee in a pro sports league.

Along the way, you get a courtside seat through the eyes of Donaghy, him making the calls, having been stalked by Rasheed Wallace at one point, the referee's agenda for tonight's game and which team is required to have some "breathing room," how referees get rewarded and get the chance to officiate playoff games and the cheery spirit from LeBron's mother. You also get an eerie sight when he constantly lies to his wife time and time again, for the sake of placing bets and receiving his wins, and the tons of golf games he played with his buddies. You can feel the tremor the second his [old high school] pal Martino called him and said it's the FBI knocking on their door. You also get a feel about what life is like behind bars—almost similar to the environment portrayed in the film The Shawshank Redemption.

As things took a nose-dive, I really felt bad for Donaghy. That same down hill dive reminded me of what happened to late great game show host Ray Combs, to which his struggles led him to commit suicide. Tim seems like a cool guy. My favorite part was when one of his daughters cuddled up to him asking if he bet on games. When Donaghy answered, his daughter said it's okay and that she still loves him. That was the sweetest part of the book, right up there with his daughters visiting him in jail.

On this book, Donaghy admits he DID NOT fix games for betting purposes. Ba Ba had something to say about that featured on the book, Gaming The Game.

Would it be fair to say that what I learned was not only how the system runs in the NBA direct from a referee who worked there and how they choose who is supposed to win, why star players shouldn't be on the bench and the life of a referee, but learned never to stay in touch with folks from the past? Personally, I struggled getting along with folks from grammar/high school (books are now my only friends), and if being under extortion because one was always considered 'nice,' then I certainly learned why from this book. Though we all want some thrills and excitement in our lives, it's best to look before you leap and why.

I read somewhere that this book was written in retaliation to David Stern and the NBA because he thought he could still work in the league since his betting scandals had nothing to do with his job, having denied the allegations that he fixed games. I also remember, in an interview, Donaghy stated that this book was written to pay for restitution, but also to provide basketball fans as to the goings-on in the NBA—unveiling what goes on behind the closed doors. In fact, to this day, one of his good friends, Scott Foster, is still employed in the NBA. You think Foster is following suit?

If you're a huge basketball fan like I am was, don't miss this. You'll not only learn biographically about Donaghy and why he admits he's guilty, but he also explains 'how the game is really played' in the NBA; as a bonus, Donaghy explains why he thinks Mark Cuban—owner of the Dallas Mavericks—would make a great commissioner for the league. You will never watch and take NBA games at face value after you read this. (Knowing the truth is going to hurt, but the fact that it sets one free is what you, and everyone else, wants right?)

"...It was the NBA that hired Donaghy despite numerous background checks. It was the NBA that let Donaghy officiate their highly sought after playoff games, even though they continually monitored his on- and off-the-court actions. It was the NBA that employed Donaghy for 13 years - and potentially more had the FBI not arrested him. It is the NBA that has an entire security division employed to monitor players, team officials, and referees in an attempt to stem any such criminal behavior. Yet the NBA did not catch Donaghy. In fact, his arrest came as a shock to the league. So who is lacking more credibility? Donaghy, or the league that employed - and would've continued to employ - him?

Before you answer that question, consider what Donaghy ultimately told the feds: That the NBA routinely instructed its referees to alter the outcomes of its games. Or, to put it more simply, the NBA is fixed."

—Brian Tuohy, author of The Fix Is In (Quoted from his article Tim Donaghy v. the NBA)





  • Told all by a former NBA referee himself.
  • Worthy of converting into a feature film (though sports outlets may object to such idea).
  • Guaranteed to raise eyebrows at the nature of officiating.
  • Suggests Mark Cuban to be fit as an NBA Commissioner.
  • Didn't talk much about the "Malice at the Palace," which was a game he officiated in 2004.
  • If the NBA knew about his sketchy collaborations with a gangster, what took them so long to handle the matter immediately?
95% (A)
Fan Rating
Title Personal Foul

A First-Person Account of the Scandal that Rocked the NBA
Author(s) Tim Donaghy
Description Tim Donaghy loved basketball. In many ways, his zest for the game came from his father, who officiated high school and college games for over thirty years. After graduating from Villanova, Donaghy was unsatisfied with his career until he followed his heart and became a basketball referee, first in the CBA and then the NBA, where he officiated for thirteen seasons—772 regular season games and twenty playoff games.

He loved his job, his family, his life. He felt like he had everything. And then, suddenly, he had nothing. He succumbed to a gambling addiction as well as to intimidation from well-connected criminals and began using inside information to win bets for them. Following an FBI investigation, Donaghy pled guilty to two federal charges, and on August 15, 2007, he was sentenced to fifteen months in prison. He was released on November 4, 2009, after serving his sentence.

You hold in your hands his story, which provides a stunningly candid admission of his mistakes as well as his insider's account of the world of professional basketball. With a foreword by the FBI Special Agent who the Gambino case, Personal Foul reveals how the fast life of professional sports can tempt and trap the unwary and unwise.

Donaghy has written an unforgettable page-turner, one of the most controversial sports books ever published. It will confirm your suspicions about the influence of the front offices of major league sports while examining the corrosive power of money, fame, and power.
Dedication "To my four beautiful daughters: Meghan, Shannon, Bridget, and Molly"
ISBN 978-0-615-36263-2
Book Dimensions Width: 6.0″
Height: 9.0″
Depth: 0.75″ (¾″)
Page Count 272
Contents Foreword, Introduction, thirteen (13) chapters, Afterword, Acknowledgements, Index
Book Design iStockPhoto / toddtaulman
Author Photograph --
Published June 29, 2010
Publisher Four Daughters LLC
Copyright © 2009 by Tim Donaghy
Printed in U.S.A.
Book Format Paperback, Kindle
Quoted Reviews "The book the NBA doesn't want you to read." — Deadspin.com
Best Seller's List --
Other This book was originally published on November 2009, with Tim's photo on the front cover.
Previous title of the book was Blowing The Whistle: The Culture of Fraud in the NBA, published by Triumph Books in 2009.
According to USA Today, Donaghy received $1.3 million after suing the book publisher—Shawna Vercher of VTi Group, who published his book and refused to pay revenue generated from book sales, keeping/using the money for the company. This led to a breach of contract and theft. Donaghy, and the fellas he gambled with, owe $100,000+ in restitution to the NBA, and will be out of probation on Nov. 3, 2012.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data 1. Basketball—Betting—United States.
2. Basketball—Corrupt practices—United States.
3. National Basketball Association—Corrupt practices.
4. Donaghy, Tim.
5. Referees—United States.
I. Title.
CIP Number ???
LC Control Number 2009034248
LC Call Number GV887.7.D66  2009
DDC Call Number 796.323´64—dc22


* Required information
Captcha Image

No comments yet. Discuss this with us! Please keep it professional.