Friday , Jul , 20 , 2007 Oly Sandor

Breaking News: FBI Investigating Allegations NBA Ref Bet On Games He Worked

The NBA is investigating allegations that a referee has been gambling on games that he worked … These allegations, even if they are just allegations, are a worst case scenario for the league … After all, Commissioner Stern has always taken a hard stance against gambling … Click here for news and analysis on this story …

ESPN reports on an FBI investigation into NBA officials gambling on games:

The FBI is investigating allegations that a veteran NBA referee bet on basketball games over the past two seasons, including ones in which he officiated.

According to a law enforcement official, authorities are examining whether the referee made calls to affect the point spread in games on which he or associates had wagered.

The law enforcement official, who spoke to the AP on Friday on condition of anonymity, said the referee was aware of the investigation and had made arrangements to surrender as early as next week to face charges. The official, who did not identify the referee, is familiar with the investigation but was not authorized to speak publicly about the ongoing investigation.

The law enforcement official said the bets involved thousands of dollars and were made on games during the 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 seasons.

In a statement issued Friday, the NBA said: "We have been asked by the FBI, with whom we are working closely, not to comment on this matter at this time."

The probe, which began recently, also involves allegations that the referee had connections to organized crime associates. Other arrests are expected, the official said.

 "These accusations, if true, are extremely serious and we have been in discussions with the NBA regarding this matter," Lamell McMorris, head of the NBA Referees Association, told Bloomberg News. "In light of the fact that this is an ongoing federal criminal investigation, we have nothing further to say at this time."

My Quick Take: Forget The Malice N The Palace. Forget low playoff ratings. Forget having to suspend Amare Stoudemire and Boris Diaw. These allegations are a worst case scenario for Commissioner Stern and the NBA.

We don’t know have much information at this point, so it’s hard to comment on the magnitude of the scandal. But where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Right now, there’s a ton of smoke billowing from these allegations.

The NBA has always frowned upon gambling. Cities, with NBA franchises, have to adhere to strict gambling laws. The league has held off on expanding into Las Vegas because they’re hoping the city will modify its gambling laws.

Most importantly, the NBA has always always avoided gambling because they want to brand the league as family entertainment. Mobsters and organized crime aren’t exactly family fun. And ref’s gambling on games they worked destroys the entertainment factor and kills the sanctity of the game.

What if this referee worked a deciding game seven in the NBA playoffs? What if the score was close? Can we trust the result? These are legitimate questions. The scores from games and playoff rounds could be in doubt.

We don’t have a lot of answers. So it’s hard to make a definite statement. One thing is for sure: Commissioner Stern’s worst nightmare could become a reality. And the fallout won’t be pretty.

Come back to for more on this story as it develops.

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