Sports News Without Access, Favor, Or Discretion

As he has done for us in years past, Tim Donaghy, the owner and operator of and a former NBA referee who spent 11 months in prison for relaying inside information to gamblers, will review the performance of his former colleagues during the NBA Finals. Here's a quarter-by-quarter breakdown of Game 2, with accompanying video.

First Quarter

12:00: Poor toss to start the game. The players cannot hit the ball on the way up—it must be at its peak. Crawford is the one who made the poor toss, but Mauer should have called it back. Officials almost never call a toss back, though, because it embarrasses the one who threw it. (Fun fact: these two often argued in the bar after games about who had the better toss.)


11:38: Travel called, correct call. Notice: Crawford doesn't blow his whistle, even though the play coming right at him. He doesn't believe in calling travels unless someone takes five or six steps without dribbling.

9:36: Bosh corrals a turnover and then travels—he moves his pivot foot without taking a dribble or making a pass. It's right in front of Crawford, but there's no call.

4:37: Wade commits a foul after Ginobili has the ball, and the officials miss it. It's a mix of star treatment and pragmatism—the officials don't want to hassle Wade, and Ginobili hung on to the ball anyway.

4:10: This is a cheap foul called on this made basket. Most officials hold their whistle to see if the shot falls before making a call like this.


3:42: Foul called—where's the consistency? Duncan had the same contact at the other end on the same type of play 20 seconds prior, and he didn't get the call. This is the kind of situation that pisses coaches off. Officials discuss these types of plays before a game, and decide that if an official lets marginal contact go at one end, it shouldn't be called at the other end—especially within 20 seconds of the first play.

Second Quarter

7:31: Offensive foul missed on Parker. He pushes off with his right arm, sending Birdman to the floor. Guards usually get away with these fouls because officials think too much about players' size. Officials assume that it is hard for a small guard to push a bigger center to the floor, therefore they assume that Birdman flopped.


1:55: This is a bullshit call. James goes up and over Duncan, who does not make any effort to box out or jump for the rebound. Remember that Crawford called many bullshit calls on James in the Indianapolis series, which just so happened to come right after James made some comments about how players flop because it works. Crawford is absolutely the kind of guy who would take exception to those comments and take it out on James, because James was essentially saying that the referees suck at their jobs. The game was going smoothly up to this point, but then Crawford needed some attention.

0:40: Good no-call—Parker, going to the basket, causes this contact.

Third Quarter

11:39: Poor call—Haslem gets all ball, and Parker drives into him.

11:47: Missed possession call—Haslem hits the ball out of bounds, but it is given back to Miami.


9:05: James drove into the defender. This is an offensive foul, and the refs missed it. Why? Crawford must have reviewed during halftime the bullshit over-the-back call he hit James with in the second quarter. Now he's being extra-careful not to hit him with a borderline call.

Fourth Quarter

11:16: Parker flops again, trying to draw a foul while shooting an airball. The league needs to review his flops in Game 2: He deserves a fine. And that's not his only problem. Referees get annoyed by incessant flopping, so Parker may start getting fewer calls than he's used to.


7:00: San Antonio takes out its starters with seven minutes to go in the fourth. I am sure this annoyed Stern—the last thing he wants is a boring finals game. Pop should have known that the refs were going to give every call to San Antonio for the rest of the game, hoping to give his team some chance to make a bit of a comeback. Referees care about TV ratings, too, so they'll narrow the deficit to keep the game interesting. They know that if somebody turns on the game and it's a 30-point blowout halfway through the 4th quarter, that person probably isn't going to keep watching.

1:30: Bad foul called during garbage time—a prime example of the referees throwing some sympathy San Antonio's way.

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