We've obtained a copy of Tim Donaghy's book, Blowing the Whistle, which purports to expose the NBA's "culture of fraud" and which Random House was set to publish next month — until, a source says, the league threatened to sue.
The book is the former referee's account of his time in the NBA and the events that led to his conviction, in 2007, on charges that he relayed inside information on NBA games — including several that he was working — to a professional gambler. Blowing the Whistle falls somewhere between a confessional and an indictment, both of his former colleagues and their employer. In the book, Donaghy alleges, among other things, that referee Dick Bavetta spoke unabashedly about his role as the NBA's "go-to guy." Donaghy cites Game 6 of the notorious 2002 Western Conference finals, between the Lakers and the Kings — a game that NBA conspiracy theorists still talk about as if it were basketball's grassy knoll. Donaghy, who was not assigned to the game, reports that Bavetta "openly talked about the fact that the league wanted a Game 7." We'll have excerpts later today.
Donaghy is currently in a federal detention center near Tampa, a week away from his release. About 10 months ago, he shopped the book to Triumph Books, an imprint of Random House, according to a source close to Donaghy. Triumph, the source says, "put forth a huge effort to verify every statement in that book." (Triumph's editorial director, Tom Bast, declined to comment.) Two weeks ago, Blowing the Whistle was ready for printing; 60 Minutes had plans to interview Donaghy in conjunction with the book's publication. Then the NBA came calling. "They came after Random House and threatened a lawsuit," the source says, "and Random House just rolled and decided to not go with it. It's really that simple." To his knowledge, no one at the NBA had actually read the book.
"Which is why," he goes on, "Triumph was so intrigued as to why the parent company decided to not go with it. Because there was no logical reasoning other than an open threat. It just doesn't make sense. If they had come down and said, 'There are some specific things that are flat-out lies or they're wrong and we think there are fabrications or something,' then there'd be some basis to say, 'OK, we need to back up and double-check this.' But this was just an open comment. And so we don't know what the specific basis of that potential suit might've been."
The book no longer has an Amazon page; it's cached here. Meanwhile, Donaghy is looking for another publisher. He may even self-publish. "It's dead right now," the source says. "The whole thing has fallen flat on its face. ... Obviously, the NBA has got some people running scared."