NBA commissioner David Stern addressed the media today to talk about what the league knows about former NBA referee Tim Donaghy betting on games. This is my live commentary as it happened.
11:04AM: This is the first NBA press conference I've witnessed where NBA lawyer Joel Litvin is sitting in the middle seat of the first row. Here they come.
11:05AM: Stern wearing a blue tie. He usually wears red.
11:06AM: The NBA is apparently not scared to take questions on this.
11:06AM: Seems like they're just talking about Donaghy. Stern said "what we can and cannot tell you" which makes you think about how much they can say given ongoing investigations.
11:08AM: Stern is explaining how they should have noticed something like this.
11:10AM: So far Stern has said nothing the fan wants to hear.
11:11AM: Anyone watching this is asking "So why did this happen?"
11:13AM: Nine minutes in .. still just disclaimers about how they should have noticed it. Given how general this is so far, I'm concerned the NBA won't be able to answer the questions the fans want answered.
11:13AM: I'm surprised he's not reading from a prepared statement.
11:14AM: It's curious that he's explaining how they work and how fans should be comforted in the future with their system but he hasn't discussed the specifics of the Donaghy case. So far, Stern gets a C-minus.
11:15AM: Stern says the system was "as good as it could be" but some people will question that especially given Donaghy's "gambling stats."
11:17AM: The Daily News report that the NBA has hired an investigator appears to be true.
11:18AM: The over/under on this press conference is 45 minutes. I'm taking the over.
11:19 AM: They checked only the legal sports books, so obviously that's where the system failed.
11:20AM: The season had ended when the FBI contacted the NBA. That's what my sources were telling me days ago. This is the key statement so far, that the NBA did not cooperate with the FBI as the season was underway.
11:22AM: It's amazing the story lasted a month from the time the FBI contacted the NBA until the New York Post broke it.
11:24AM: Stern confirmed Donaghy was betting on NBA games. Not certain it was only games he worked but some might have been.
11:24AM: He also provided information to others which means that the $50,000 figure we had heard was what he had bet. Might be just the tip of the iceberg.
11:25AM: Referee Donaghy resigned weeks before the story broke. This is, again, a shock that it didn't come out earlier.
11:26AM: Stern says Donaghy is the only referee alleged to have bet on NBA games.
11:28AM: Stern says his obligation as Commissioner is to retain best outside advisers to tell NBA what it could have done better.
11:29AM: "Most serious and worst situation I have ever experienced" either as fan or Commissioner.
11:29AM: The fact that David Stern can do this entire thing ad lib, when he needs to be careful with his words due to the NBA investigation, is amazing. I guess it pays to have a Commissioner who is also a lawyer. I'm not sure the NBA could have done this, but I'm surprised that at this point they don't seem to have any information about Donaghy betting on on games he officiated.
11:31AM: Question-and-answers has begun. I don't expect any more information to come out of the press conference. The two most important points are: 1) The FBI contacted the NBA after the season had ended. This means that the NBA didn't knowingly put him out on the floor when they were told something was going on. 2) They believe this is an isolated case.
The NBA can recover from this. Had it been a string of referees and they had known about this while the season was going on, this could have been a mortal blow to the NBA's business.