Smith: Donaghy Spoils NBA Dream Season

"At the time, I felt I was absolutely correct," Van Gundy said at halftime during ABC's telecast of Game 3. "But I said 'an NBA official.' I never said 'a referee.' And I don't want to give any credence to [Donaghy], who's proven himself to be wrong."

The thing is, Donaghy, in an emphatic response to the NBA's assertion that he must pay $1 million in restitution to cover the cost of the league's private investigation, has essentially answered the call by saying, "Don't act like it's just me, fellas! There's a whole bunch of referees in the NBA violating league policy."

Donaghy's legal team alleges everything from team executives having conspired with the league to keep stars out of foul trouble to officials carrying on "relationships" with team executives, coaches and players. According to Donaghy, those relationships compromised other refs, just as Donaghy compromised himself in betting on games.

As far as the NBA is concerned, its request for $1 million restitution is simply, as deputy commissioner Adam Silver put it, "Par for the course."

Silver continued, "The government approaches the victims -- which we clearly are in this case -- and asks us to assess our damages. We informed them there's no way to accurately calculate the damages to our league, basically, outside of the resources we used for the investigation. We told them what it cost us, and that's that. It's very common."

Sounds perfectly reasonable.

But in light of what transpired earlier this season at Madison Square Garden -- right down the block from the league's offices -- where the New York Knicks and chairman James Dolan refused to quietly settle a sexual harassment lawsuit and were ultimately found liable for $11.5 million, why didn't the NBA, a multibillion-dollar business, shrug off the $1 million and just go quietly into that good night?

Clearly, Donaghy isn't about to do so. He has taken a shot at the league's very foundation, and he appears to be hinting at having even more shrapnel to hurl.

There's no doubt Stern will be watching closely when Donaghy is sentenced July 14 on felony charges, hoping for the type of punishment befitting Donaghy's damaging actions.

Too little, too late? Who knows?

But this Finals series doesn't look nearly as good as it looked a week ago. We know that much for sure.

Stephen A. Smith is a columnist for and ESPN The Magazine.

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