Personal Foul

A First-Person Account of the Scandal that Rocked the NBA

Tim Donaghy

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Ratgeber / Sport


Uncover the true story behind the Netflix documentary Untold: Operation Flagrant Foul.

“The book the NBA doesn’t want you to read.” —

Tim Donaghy loved basketball. In many ways, his zest for the game came from his father, who officiated high school and college games for over 30 years. After graduating from Villanova, Donaghy was unsatisfied with his career until he followed his heart and became a basketball referee, first in the CBA and then the NBA, where he officiated for 13 seasons: 772 regular-season games and 20 playoff games.

He loved his job, his family, his life. He felt like he had everything. And then, suddenly, he had nothing. He succumbed to a gambling addiction and to intimidation from well-connected criminals—and began using inside information to win bets for them. Following an FBI investigation, Donaghy pled guilty to two federal charges, and on August 15, 2007, he was sentenced to 15 months in prison. He was released on November 4, 2009, after serving his sentence.

This is his story, which provides a stunningly candid admission of his mistakes, as well as his insider’s account of the world of professional basketball. With a foreword by Phil Scala, the FBI special agent who worked the Gambino case, Personal Foul reveals how the fast life of professional sports can tempt and trap the unwary and unwise.

Donaghy has written an unforgettable page-turner, one of the most controversial sports books ever published. It will confirm your suspicions about the influence of the front offices of major league sports, while examining the corrosive power of money and fame.

From the Introduction:

I’m guilty.

For 13 years I was a referee in the National Basketball Association, living a glamorous life on and off the court, rubbing elbows with superstar players and celebrity A-listers. I suppose many would say that I had it all—a great job, money, a wonderful family—but it was all an illusion.

You see, during my last four years in the NBA, I led a secret life that would ultimately cost me everything: my integrity, my reputation, my career, my livelihood, my marriage, my family, and my freedom.



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