Friday, August 17, 2007

Rating a Ref Named Ronnie

Analyze the Analyst: Ronnie Nunn; The Director of NBA Officiating, Rated Donaghy in Top Tier of NBA Refs

The Tim Donaghy case has led me to one conclusion. Ronnie Nunn is the worst referee, umpire, official, line judge, or back judge to ever officiate over a sporting event.

That volunteer dad that umped his kid’s 11-12 year old mighty mite game last night to a chorus of boos from the soccer mom’s turned baseball fans is better than Nunn.

And that sophomore in highschool that referreed your kids CYO game last winter, yeah the one that forgot to call any fouls - on either team - during third quarter, and only stopped play to go grab the ball off the stage - that kid was actually a little better than Nunn as well.

Nunn wouldn’t know officiating if it slapped him in the face with a whistle. Why? No, not because he is blind, failed an eye exam, forgot his glasses, fell asleep during the game, or is an obvious alumnus of the opposing team.

(above is a picture of Nunn as a ref, now in the league office as the NBA's Director of Officiating)

And it has nothing to do with the 19 years he spent patrolling the NBA hardwood either as an average ref (according to Ric Bucher's ESPN the mag report).

It has to do with his rating system for the NBA refs. Ronnie Nunn is the Director of NBA Officials. He oversees, and reviews, and rates the performance of the NBA’s refs.

He has, for the past four years, rated Tim Donaghy as a ‘Top Tier’ NBA official. During those last four years, according to court documents made public this week, Donaghy has been fixing the games he’s reffed.

But Ronnie Nunn thinks he’s doing a great job of reffing. Huh?

To be clear, I am not saying that he should have known Donaghy was fixing games, betting on games, or in bed with the Gambino crime family, as is alleged in court documents published on, and newspapers everywhere, earlier this week. I give him a pass on that.

But I am asking WHY wasnt Donaghy, AT LEAST, rated as a POOR PERFORMER, under the Ronnie Nunn officiating handbook, and guidelines. Can’t a guy that is deliberately fixing games, at least earn a ‘lower tier ranking', or even a ‘middle tier ranking’? How about average? Maybe even barely meets standards? But no, he is a Top Tier guy. Does a guy fixing games really have to be rated as one of the best refs? Also, refs are REWARDED with their good performance by being assigned to playoff games at the years end. Donaghy has worked the playoffs each of the last four years. Wow.

It was reported through court documents on August 15th that Tim Donaghy plead guilty to “conspiracy to engage in wire fraud and transmitting betting information through interstate commerce.” It was said that “he started making NBA bets four years ago, and he didnt hesitate to wager on games he worked “

Despite the fact that he “did not hesitate to wager on games he worked” David Stern said that “Donaghy was rated in the top tier of officials, and there was nothing suspicious about the frequency of his foul calls.”

A game between the Celtics and the 76ers was cited in court documents. Donaghy worked the game. The point spread moved 2 points before the game went off the board - thats a lot to non-gamblers. Boston went from a 1.5 point favorite, to a 3.5 point favorite. Boston won by 20. The next day it was reported that Donaghy met with gamblers in PA, and received a cash payment.

This was a regular season game. Ronnie Nunn decided that Tim Donaghy work the playoffs as reward for being a Top Tier Ref.

He was assigned to work in the second round of the playoffs, Phoenix - San Antonio, Western Conference Finals game. Robert Horry split Nash’s nose open, and went on to win the series, and the NBA title. The city of Phoenix is reportedly looking into filing additonal charges against Donaghy for his work during that game.

It wouldn't be so bad if Nunn at least determined that Donaghy wasn't good enough to work the playoffs one of the four years he was rigging games. But other refs stayed at home, as Nunn assigned that 'pros pro' Donaghy to go work the NBA Playoff Games. To conclude, I do have to say that I am not a referee of any kind, but I gotta think that Joey Crawford, Dick Bavetta, Bennet Salvatore, and about every other ref in the league could do about a thousand time better job rating refs than Ronnie Nunn's done. But what do I know, I’m just a guy from the Nosebleeds.


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