Shocking new details emerge about how NBA referee fixed games

More than a decade after disgraced NBA referee Tim Donaghy entered the public consciousness, new data has revealed exactly how he fixed games.

In in-depth investigation and analysis from ESPN has revealed that there was only a 4.1 per cent chance an unbiased referee would have made the same calls Donaghy did during his crooked run.

Michael Jordan talks with referee Tim Donaghy. (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)

Donaghy has continually denied fixing matches.

The former official served 15 months in prison in 2008 for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to transmit gambling information.

How did he do it?

The 12-month long ESPN investigation gathered data from interviews, court documents, records and statistical analysis of games.

ESPN said it employed a “researcher with an extensive background in officiating” to closely watch the games and log the calls.

They then compared the imbalance of calls to the team that had more betting dollars.

Their research found that Donaghy was more likely to favour the teams he had bet on with foul calls.

Those teams would shoot more free throws, and opposition star players would find themselves in foul trouble.

The ESPN report found Donaghy would use a “literal interpretation” of the rules to cover any questionable calls he made.

Another source for the ESPN report said the disgraced official would call an illegal defence violation on the team he was betting against.

This would result in that team playing looser defence, and the team Donaghy had picked scoring more easily.

The report carries weight after the US Supreme Court’s decision in May last year to legalise sports gambling.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver, who was not in charge during the Donaghy scandal, has been outspoken about his support of legalised gambling.

More than four years ago he wrote an op-ed for The New York Times in favour of it, asking that one of the regulations Congress enact be “mandatory monitoring and reporting of unusual betting-line movements.”