David Jones has been an NBA referee for 18 years, and is among those who helped to train disgraced referee Tim Donaghy. Like every referee I have heard on the topic, Jones is mad that Donaghy has given ammunition to the legions of fans who have always accused referees of inappropriately influencing games.
Yesterday Jones spoke to a group at the University of Florida about his experiences, as reported by Kevin Brockway of the Gainesville Sun:
"We have a guy that took our ethics, our integrity, the whole nine yards and threw it out the window," Jones said. "It's unfortunate. He's made our life a living hell."
How much? Jones said he's already been interviewed once by the FBI and twice by the NBA.
"The FBI, they can stop your world," Jones said. "I don't know how many of you know that. The FBI can kind of like, step down and tell you not to do anything before you can do something. Fortunately, it knew I wasn't a problem. Several guys are still being interviewed. It's been tense."
The article also includes this bizarre anecdote:
"We're sitting in a coffee shop," Jones said. "A lady comes up and hears my name and says 'You're from Gainesville, Fla., this is your second game.' Then she points to other refs sitting with me and says 'You're from Lynchburg, Va., this is your second game. You're from Philadelphia.' She knew everything about us. It was amazing."
Good to hear referees talk though, isn't it? There has been a little more of that lately. I learned from this article, for instance, that Jones' first refereeing job was at a boys' club, and he was paid with all the hot dogs he could eat. Knowing he's passionate and dedicated makes me trust him a little more than just seeing a robot in a uniform.