There's one man who should be happy about the media frenzy over Tiger Woods' transgressions: NBA commissioner David Stern. If not for the public obsession with Woods, there would have been a lot more attention paid to the 60 Minutes interview this past Sunday with disgraced NBA referee Tim Donaghy.
Donaghy admitted in his interview that he showed horrible judgment by betting on NBA games. But what is even more amazing is that Donaghy won his wagers 70 to 80 percent of the time -- and investigations by the FBI and the NBA concluded that he did it without using his powers as an official to affect the outcome of the games in which he worked and also placed a wager.
It's extremely hard to win betting the NBA. If you hit 55 percent, you're doing well. Donaghy used his inside knowledge of league officiating -- the biases of certain officials toward players and owners, the randomness of calls, the way NBA refs tend to favor the home team -- to win at an astonishingly high rate.
His actions were reprehensible. Donaghy admits that. It hurt his family and cost him his career. But if you believe his claims about NBA officiating -- and the FBI did -- it casts the league in a very negative light. In effect, Donaghy is saying that NBA officiating is corrupt by its very nature. It's a tough game to officiate consistently. But Donaghy has revealed the dirty secret: Calls aren't always made objectively, or without individual bias.
Yes, Donaghy's comments can be dismissed as self-serving. But the 60 Minutes interview dealt a body blow to the NBA's reputation. Critics will observe the officiating with a more suspicious eye -- not necesssarily because a former ref bet on games, but because he was so intimately familiar with the flaws and biases of league officials that he could accurately predict the outcome of three-quarters of the games. Against the spread.