Phoenix Suns basketball isn’t quite here, but if you’re looking for an early excuse to yell at the referee via TV, now is your time to shine.
“Untold: Operation Flagrant Foul” is now available to watch on Netflix, a documentary that dives into the NBA game-fixing scandal of the mid-2000s with official Tim Donaghy front and center.
“Years after serving time for gambling on games he officiated, former NBA referee Tim Donaghy relives the scandal that rocked the league,” reads Netflix’s official description.
The feature runs for 1 hour and 17 minutes and is rated TV-MA.
The documentary was insightful and brought a different perspective on what really happened behind the scenes, exposing exactly how big a network of people their hands were involved.
Donaghy insisted it wasn’t just about the money, as he claimed he was making $400k a year and “didn’t need” the extra money, which was later revealed to be $2,000 for each correct choice given.
It’s important to note that Donaghy is adamant that he didn’t run any games differently, but rather used his insider knowledge of how certain umpires would mark other games and based his selections on that.
For example, Officer Steve Javie received harsh treatment from Allen Iverson and was met with a very strict officer the following night in retaliation. Donaghy knew this and told his friend (who would later evolve to provide picks to people associated with the Gambino crime family) to bet on the other team.
In the FBI investigation, Donaghy reported winning $30,000 in total from the more than 100 games he wagered between 2003 and 2007.
One of the lead investigators on the case spoke later in the documentary and essentially called it a bunch of (you know what), since millions of dollars were estimated to be swinging into each game after everyone dipped their hand into the pot.
The prominent bookmaker who eventually got in touch with Donaghy told Netflix that they used him for 47 games, going 37-10 for a 78.7% win rate.
Another interesting anecdote was when Donaghy talked about playing “the game within the game” when it came to moving up the official league ladder. He stressed that the NBA was a business and that they wanted their best players to appear on the court.
That obviously brought in the likes of Michael Jordan (who beat the Suns in the NBA Finals in the early ’90s) to protect them and keep their product in action.
Of course, it’s hard to argue that Phoenix would have beaten the Bulls, but there’s no denying the different treatment for stars like MJ.
Some conspiracy theories also made their way into the documentary, mostly focused on the NBA and its overall handling once game-fixing was brought to their attention by the FBI.
Some of the agents in the special believed that the NBA leaked what was supposed to be a thorough investigation to the public to help speed up the process, playing some kind of damage control to their image.
They also believe that when asked to cooperate fully, the league did so, but also falsified numbers potentially showing no trade bias in the specific cases the FBI was pursuing.
Another theory is related to Officer Scott Foster, who Donaghy mentioned several times was a great friend of his. Phone records indicate they spoke frequently before, after, and even sometimes at halftime of games, which could link Foster to the mix (he was found to be clean when initially investigated).
That plays well with the many Suns fans who subscribe to the theory that Foster has a thing for Phoenix point guard Chris Paul. Paul is 0-14 in postseason games coached by Foster.
For us, the general public, we will never really know how much of our beloved basketball product has been altered by this kind of thing. However, the documentary was a very good watch and provided insight into how things played out from start to finish.
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