Raps got Philips shave?

STEVE SIMMONS -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:49 AM ET

Two Raptors games may well be the centre of the shocking betting scandal that centres on NBA veteran referee Tim Donaghy.

The first was played in Atlanta against the Hawks on Nov. 24. The circumstances now appear even more dubious in the wake of the FBI investigation than they certainly seemed at the time.

An incorrect final score led to an altered gambling result from the Hawks-Raptors game that Friday night at Philips Arena.

The Raptors, a three-point underdog, were beaten 97-93 by Atlanta. For gamblers, that ended up as an Atlanta win.

But late in that game somehow, a Toronto basket by T.J. Ford went unaccounted for and the final score was improperly listed as 97-93 in favour of the Hawks.

Had the score been totalled accurately, Atlanta would have won 97-95, which by virtue of the three-point point spread, would have meant a Toronto victory for gamblers.

That wasn't the only Raptors game Donaghy -- who worked Toronto's final playoff game in New Jersey -- that now has come under suspicion. According to the New York Times, the Philadelphia 76ers were favoured to beat the Raptors on Jan. 15. But "bets came in so heavily on the Raptors that they eventually were favoured to win by a point. The Raptors won in a blowout, 104-86."

At the centre of this messy investigation is not necessarily altered results as much as altered wins and losses for gamblers playing the point spread game. The FBI is closely scrutinizing point spread movements prior to the games Donaghy worked, trying to solidify a connection between the altered point spreads and the amount of money wagered on those individual games.

According to a variety of American newspaper reports, Donaghy is being investigated for allegedly gambling on the games he officiated, for alleged ties to organized crime and for alleged involvement with altering scores so as to alter the outcomes of point spreads. It's a scandal which may be unmatched in the history of North American professional sport.

For now, and maybe not much longer, there is a great deal of allegation and supposition: No charges have yet been laid.

From the outside, at issue is the credibility and integrity of the league and its control-freak commissioner, David Stern, but also the moral and ethical foundation which governs all of sport in a larger context.

This is, without the Hall of Fame name, bigger and more dangerous than Pete Rose.

This is bigger than Paul Hornung and Alex Karras gambling on NFL games.

This renders the Rick Tocchet NHL-gambling story to a footnote.

STORY ONLY BEGINNING

Just how many outcomes were altered at the end of games? Just how many final scores changed by a late foul call or a basket disallowed? Every game Donaghy worked, every call he made, is open to interpretation in the wake of this investigation.

And this story has just begun.

When the Raptors lost by four in Atlanta, assistant coach Jay Triano was aware the scoreboard was incorrect. The matter apparently was brought to the attention of the scorer's table and never went any further than that.

The game result didn't change: Only the gambling result did. That's the tricky part for the FBI and the NBA to deal with: Unless Donaghy cooperates with investigators, and there is some indication he might after hiring American attorney John Lauro, well known for working with those who turn evidence against others, this scandal could get even more nasty for the NBA, which by itself has enough questions to answer for.

Beginning with, if the NBA was aware of trouble on the Donaghy front as early as January, how did the league allow him to work playoff games, including the Raptors' Game 6 defeat in New Jersey?

Who made that call? And why?

And how did the NBA allow him to continue working regularly -- and actually grading out well on their scale -- while it had hired a private investigator to gather information on Donaghy?

For months, Donaghy was assigned to referee games, assigned to playoff games, while the FBI tracked his every move.

These are among the multitude of questions that await Stern, when he chooses to face them today at a news conference. Likely, it will just be an update of some kind without further answers or context.

But according to the New York Post, at least 15 of the 60 games Donaghy has officiated since December are considered to be tainted in one way or another.

Just how many involve the Raptors may be known soon.


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