Tim Donaghy documentary implies officials altered '06 Celtics win over the 76ers


It was one of the Celtics’ few blowout victories in a season that was filled with losses. But as it turns out, the game was probably fixed, or at least heavily slanted towards Boston.

The Celtics’ 101-81 win over the 76ers on Dec. 13, 2006 is one of several games that’s featured in the Netflix documentary about shamed ex-NBA referee Tim Donaghy, “Untold: Operation Flagrant Foul.” The doc tells the story about how Donaghy was the centerpiece of a multimillion-dollar gambling operation centered around fixing NBA contests, in which he supplied shady characters with picks that almost always won. One of Donaghy’s conspirators, Jimmy “The Sheep” Battista, claims he went 37-10 in 47 games with Donaghy, moving $2 million to $3 million per affair. (Records show that Donaghy only reaped $30,000 from the scheme for himself, however.)

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Donaghy alleges he was far from a rogue operator, and phone records support his claim. For example: he placed 134 phone calls to fellow referee Scott Foster from October 2006 through April 2007. Foster is still officiating games today.

Despite a trove of evidence implicating Donaghy, he insists he didn’t fix games, but rather made picks based on referee “tendencies.” That’s how he defended his Celtics pick on that mid-December night. Donaghy was working the game with Derek Stafford, who apparently had a vendetta against then-76ers coach Maurice Cheeks. Donaghy says that Stafford didn’t think Cheeks took coaching seriously and had a weak grasp on the game. As a result, Donaghy expected Philadelphia to have a difficult time.

That’s exactly what happened. “They’re booing in Philly,” Tommy Heinsohn joked. “I don’t ever remember them booing in Philly.”

The documentary outlines all of the worst fears about NBA officiating, implying that referees call games to settle personal scores. To prove that point, Donaghy points to a game in which the officials decided to call palming on Allen Iverson, because of his abusive behavior towards them.

The Nuggets lost, and scored a season-low 84 points.

Donaghy says he was only following orders, which included giving star players preferential treatment. The documentary speculates that the NBA leaked news about the FBI investigation into Donaghy so it wouldn’t spread further.

“Elvis was the king of rock. Timmy was the king of fixing games,” says Battista at one point.

The Celtics only won 24 games during the 2006-07 season. It seems like they can thank Zebra Elvis for one of those victorious.