Bryant Gumbel's "Real Sports" caught up with Jimmy Battista, the recovering drug/gambling addict who bankrolled Tim Donaghy's awesome NBA bets and went to jail for it. He now has a few sinister insinuations he'd like to get off his chest.
In his interviews with Gumbel, Battista seemed open to discussing anything from his cocaine habit to the best way to covertly take bets from a working NBA official. But when pressed on the issue of Donaghy fixing games, he becomes oddly cagey. To be fair, it is difficult to say "Tim fixed games" without actually saying that he fixed games.
Battista went to high school with Donaghy, lost touch when he became a full-time professional gambler, but then hooked up with him again after learning that Donaghy had a gambling problem. See, the thing is, everyone is in universal agreement that Donaghy was terrible at picking games ... unless they happened to be the games that he was working. Battista set up an amazing arrangement where he would serve as Donaghy's bookie, but Donaghy never had to pay out on losses—he was only rewarded for his wins. That seems like a guy who is pretty confident that his wins will win big. Which they did, about 80% of the time.
Battista's whole story is kind of convoluted and Swiss-cheese like (look for the re-runs to see the whole thing), so who really knows what the full truth is. But Battista is definitely trying to say something, if we could only decode what he's really getting at.
Oh, and in a "interesting, if true" postscript—a "source" tells a local Boston TV station that Battista says he had 13 NBA referees in his stable and will soon write a tell-all book exposing the whole charade. Should I start holding my breath now or should we wait for fourth-party confirmation from the mailman?
HBO: Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel - The Insider [HBO]
Ex-Referee Donaghy's Accomplice Says They Bet on Many Games [NY Times]
Source: Gambler claims 13 referees involved in NBA betting scandal [WHDH]