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Former NBA referee and gambling enthusiast Tim Donaghy is out of prison after 11 months for a mob-fueled gambling scheme that rocked the league. And, of course, he's made a beeline for TV, ostensibly to explain away why he did it and how it never affected the outcome of games.
Donaghy sat down with Bob Simon on "60 Minutes" in an attempt to clear the air, if not his name. And while admitting to being highly successful - Donaghy and the FBI say he won his bets as much as 80 percent of the time - he never threw a game, he says:
"Because the FBI did a thorough investigation, and even the NBA concluded that I did not fix games in the NBA," Donaghy said.
"He said, 'Knowing the information that I had, I didn't have to do anything on the court to pick a winner. I could pick a winner 80 percent of the time just knowing what I knew an hour before the game,'" Special Agent Philip Scala said. "And watching the tapes we could see that there was never something outlandish where you could see he called a foul or he omitted a foul because he wanted to see a certain team win. We never saw that."
The NBA's investigation came to the same surprising conclusion: "It seems plausible to us that Donaghy may not have manipulated games... We are unable to contradict the government's conclusion."
"I tried to put it out of my mind. And I think that that I was able to do that," Donaghy said.
Donaghy claims he was able to amass his fortunes by knowing how other refs would work games and betting on, among other things, their like or dislike for various player, coaches and even team owners.
Donaghy also said in the interview that league office directives contributed to his handicapping prowess, and mentioned specifically the preferential treatment Kobe Bryant was afforded because of complaints of missed calls from the Lakers' front office:
"The Lakers had sent in a CD of 25 plays that they felt calls were missed when Kobe Bryant went to the basket. And I understood from the NBA office that 22 of those plays were missed by the referees. And I knew that Kobe Bryant was basically gonna be given the opportunity to go to the foul line if somebody as much as breathed on him.
Because it was inside information along the lines of knowing that a certain stock was gonna be bought out before the opening bell on the stock market. So, it's almost a guarantee," Donaghy said.
Donaghy also goes into detail about how his personal gambling Jones became entangled in organized crime pursuits, which is eventually how the FBI was able to find him out in the beginning of his end. It was also the beginning of knee problems after he was literally kneecapped by someone claiming to be a mob enforcer.
Donaghy took all the blame, said all the right things and acted the contrite man he should be. Believe him or don't. Either way, his odds seem good as the interview circuit and book tour - the perfect Christmas gift! - combine to put him back into the win column. Unless, you know, the mob decided to get pissed at him again.