Tensions Rise in NBA Game Rigging Case

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NBA Commissioner David Stern is rejecting charges that league referees and officials rigged the 2002 playoff series.

The new charges come at the height of the NBA finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics.

Last year, ex-referee Tim Donaghy pleaded guilty to felony charges that he took cash payoffs from gamblers and even bet on games himself.

Now, Donaghy says the NBA tried to rig a 2002 playoff series to make it last seven games so the league could make more money.

In a letter submitted by his lawyer, Donaghy claimed the NBA asked referees on several occasions to make bogus calls in games. Without naming individuals or teams, he explained that they were instructed to keep star players in the game as long as possible to boost ticket sales and ratings.

"If the NBA wanted a team to succeed, league officials would inform referees that opposing players were getting away with violations," the letter said. "Referees then would call fouls on certain players, frequently resulting in victory for the opposing team."

Stern says the former ref is making up the claims in hopes that his sentence will be reduced.

"The U.S. attorneys office, the FBI have fully investigated it, and Mr. Donaghy is the only one guilty of a crime," Stern said. "He's going to be sentenced for that crime, regardless of his desperate attempts to implicate as many people as he can."

A statement issued by the NBA referees union also described Donaghy as someone with "honesty and credibility issues from the get-go."

Donaghy is facing up to 33 months in prison. He will be sentenced July 14.

Source: The Associated Press

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