10 QUESTIONS FOR TIM DONAGHY

Ken Hoffman catches up with a disgraced NBA referee ahead of his new biopic

Photo by Roland Martinez/Getty Images

For two years during his career as an NBA referee, Tim Donaghy did more than send players to the free throw line and "T up" abrasive coaches. He and two cohorts cashed millions with Donaghy making questionable calls and betting on games that he was officiating.

On November 1, Donaghy's story comes to the big screen in Inside Game – The True Story of the NBA Betting Scandal starring Eric Mabius as Tim Donaghy, and Scott Wolf and Will Sasso as Donaghy's childhood buddies and co-conspirators Tommy Martino and James "Baba" Battista.

Donaghy refereed 772 regular season and 20 playoff games between 1994 and 2007. During his last two years as an NBA ref, he used inside information he gained from relationships with other referees, coaches, players, and front office personnel to gain an illegal betting edge.

Eventually the FBI wised up to his scheme during a separate investigation. Donaghy was sentenced to 15 months in prison. He was released after 11 months, only to return behind bars to complete his sentence for violating terms of his release.

In 2009, Donaghy wrote a memoir, Blowing the Whistle: The Culture of Fraud in the NBA, later retitled Personal Foul: A First Person Account of the Scandal that Rocked the NBA. The movie Inside Game is not based on Donaghy's book, however, and he had no input in the film's production. He is helping to promote the film, and that's how I got him on the phone last week.

CultureMap: How come you weren’t involved in this movie?

Tim Donaghy: I was hoping for a little control over the script, and that was something they wouldn't do. We couldn't come to an agreement, so I passed on getting involved as a consultant. I thought that I had done enough wrong in my life that they didn't need me to add anything. Every time I hope the story goes away something pops up.

CM: Have you seen the movie, and what did you think of it?

TD: I have seen the film. I like it. I think there's a great message in the film about how important choices are, and how the choices you make affect other people. They did a good job of getting the story correct.

CM: If gamblers wanted to fix a game, would they be better of bribing a referee or a player?

TD: I think you're going to have a situation on the college level where they go to one of these players who isn't going to make it on the next level and offer him a large sum of money. Let's say his team is favored by a large number, maybe 15 points. You tell the player, you can still win the game, just don't win the game by more than 10 or 11 or 12 points. I think that's where you're going to see the next scandal. Some of these college kids don't have much money and they need money for their families.

Continue on CultureMap to read the rest of this fascinating interview.

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Houston is back in the win column

McCullers Jr. spins a gem as Astros get a much-needed win over Giants

Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images

After getting swept by the A's in Oakland to end a road trip with a five-game losing streak, the Astros returned to Houston to try and get back on track. To do so, they'd need a win against the Giants on Monday night. Here is a quick recap of the series opener:

Final Score: Astros 6, Giants 4.

Record: 7-9, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Lance McCullers Jr. (2-1, 6.10 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Logan Webb (1-1, 2.81 ERA).

Houston builds up an early lead

The early goings of Monday's game went very similar to the last time Lance McCullers Jr. took the mound. He would have a terrific first three innings while his offense gave him an early lead. The first run came in the bottom of the second, with Yuli Gurriel reaching base on a one-out double, moving to third on a wild pitch, then scoring on an RBI-single by Carlos Correa.

Correa would take part in a four-run inning in the third, as Houston would score two on a two-RBI ground-rule double by Michael Brantley, another on an error, then Correa's second RBI of the night, a groundout to bring in a run and make it 5-0. Unlike the last start in Arizona, where the roof opened and McCullers Jr. fell apart in the fourth, he was able to make quick work of his opponent for a 1-2-3 frame. As he kept recording scoreless innings, Martin Maldonado added another run to the lead with a one-out solo home run in the bottom of the sixth, making it 6-0.

McCullers Jr. takes a no-hitter into the seventh

While the Astros were building their lead, McCullers Jr. was spinning a gem on the mound. He allowed just one baserunner through the first six innings, which came on a hit-by-pitch. He entered the seventh with a no-hitter in progress, but the Giants would get their first hit of the night to end the no-hit bid.

Regardless, the start was precisely what McCullers Jr. needed to restore his confidence after the disastrous inning he had in his last appearance. He would go on to complete the seventh inning before Houston would go to the bullpen with the large lead in the eighth. His final line: 7.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 K 0 HR, 1 HPB.

Houston gets back in the win column despite more struggles by Josh James

Josh James entered out of the bullpen for the top of the eighth but allowed the first run of the night for San Francisco via a solo home run with one out to make it 6-1. He would complete the inning and then return for the top of the ninth. He would have another rocky inning, issuing a leadoff walk before a single and double would make it a four-run game at 6-2, still with no outs in the inning and runners on second and third, prompting another call to the bullpen.

Dusty Baker would bring in his current closer, Ryan Pressly, to try and finish the game, now in a save situation. Pressly would retire the first two batters he faced before allowing a two-RBI single to make it 6-4, but would eventually get the final out to get Houston the much-needed win. With the victory, the Astros moved back into second place in the AL West standings.

Up Next: The middle game of this three-game set will start Tuesday at 8:10 PM Central. The Giants, working with a fluid rotation, have not yet fully decided on their starter, while the Astros will get another start from Brandon Bielak (2-0, 0.87 ERA) who will look to repeat the success of his five-inning, no-run start in Arizona last week.

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