When the Tim Donaghy drama unfolded over two years ago, basketball fans around the globe were in shock. What a scumbag, we all thought.
Well, according to his book, Blowing the Whistle, which apparently is no longer being published, suspect officiating goes a lot deeper than one degenerate gambler. Perhaps not so surprisingly, the league sends subtle messages to their refs, and the zebras call the games accordingly.
A little more eye-opening, though, is the fun these refs have on their own volition.
Here is one of the many golden excerpts, via Deadspin:
We had another variation of this gag simply referred to as the "first foul of the game" bet. While still in the locker room before tip-off, we would make a wager on which of us would call the game's first foul. That referee would either have to pay the ball boy or pick up the dinner tab for the other two referees. Sometimes, the ante would be $50 a guy. Like the technical foul bet, it was hilarious — only this time we were testing each other's nerves to see who had the guts to hold out the longest before calling a personal foul. There were occasions when we would hold back for two or three minutes — an eternity in an NBA game — before blowing the whistle. It didn't matter if bodies were flying all over the place; no fouls were called because no one wanted to lose the bet.
Often times we forget that referees are human, just like us. Prone to mistakes. Victims of temptation. Awestruck by susperstars.
I strongly suggest you read some of the excerpts from the article above. Where else can you find detailed insight on the abomination of an official named Dick Bavetta, or the personal beef Steve Javie had against Allen Iverson? Wait, scratch that - those are both pretty blatant.