Personal Foul: Tim Donaghy's NBA tell-all now available

By Henry Abbott

Former NBA referee Tim Donaghy's book, dropped in late October by a division of Random House, is back with a new title and a new publisher.

"Personal Foul: A First-Person Account of the Scandal that Rocked the NBA" is now available for sale online, with a publish date of Dec. 4. It is being sold through CreateSpace, a self-publishing arm of Amazon.com, although the publisher is a Florida-based business called VTi Group, Inc., whose primary business has been marketing.

"We approached Mr. Donaghy after learning that his original publishing deal fell through," says Benjamin Daniel, a project manager at VTi. "With a background in web media and traditional publishing, Mr. Donaghy felt that our firm was the best fit to become the publisher for this unique project."

Daniel says the new book is essentially the same as the one that was dropped by Random House over liability concerns, with some edits and additions.

"Personal Foul" is an insider's account of a tale that has been much-told by outsiders. In its basic outline, the narrative confirms what has been told. Donaghy began betting on sports with a friend, Jack Concannon. He quickly got involved in more different kinds of gambling, to the point of obsession. In the early stages of his gambling addiction, he avoided betting on the NBA, but, he writes, by November 2003 that line was crossed too, and before long he found he was extremely adept at picking NBA winners.

Eventually, writes Donaghy, Thomas Martino and James Battista convinced Donaghy to provide his NBA picks to Battista instead of Concannon, and they struck an arrangement by which Donaghy would be paid for every correct pick he provided. That relationship led to Donaghy's being disgraced as a referee, and incarcerated for his crimes. He was released Nov. 4.

Donaghy is adamant throughout the book that his NBA betting success was not attributable to influencing NBA games with his own whistle. Instead, he says that his insider's knowledge -- the referee's master schedule, for instance, and first-hand knowledge of referees and their biases -- was all he needed to consistently outfox oddsmakers. The implication is that many NBA referees are not fair in how they call games.

In the book's introduction, retired FBI supervisory special agent Phil Scala describes the high expectations of truth-telling placed on cooperating witnesses like Donaghy.

Donaghy has recorded an interview with the CBS program 60 Minutes that is scheduled to air this Sunday.