PHOENIX SUNS

Donaghy: Dislike of Suns owner Sarver was factor in rigging of Spurs series

Oct 16, 2019, 5:49 PM | Updated: Oct 17, 2019, 2:49 pm
Tim Thomas #2 (R) of the Phoenix Suns looks in on referees (L-R) Tim Donaghy #21, Bill Spooner #22 ...
Tim Thomas #2 (R) of the Phoenix Suns looks in on referees (L-R) Tim Donaghy #21, Bill Spooner #22 and Eddie F. Rush as they discuss the proper call on a play where Thomas was flagrantly fouled by Luke Walton #4 of the Los Angeles Lakers in Game Three of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2006 NBA Playoffs April 28, 2006 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
(Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)

By now, you know the story.

Longtime NBA referee Tim Donaghy resigned in 2007 after reports of an FBI investigation surfaced that the referee was betting on games and particularly influencing those he was gambling on.

One of those games was Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinals between the Phoenix Suns and San Antonio Spurs.

While the free throw discrepancy wasn’t extremely off-balance, the situational factors of calls going against the Suns and in favor of the Spurs in the fourth quarter stood out. The Spurs pulled away in a quarter they attempted 13 free throws in. The refereeing of that game was widely criticized at the time, beyond the usual fanfare. Turned out, there was something behind it besides human error.

Donaghy revealed on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s Bickley & Marotta that it was a specific game the referees decided to choose because of one referee’s particular disdain for Suns owner Robert Sarver. That overseeing referee pointed out specific tendencies on film for the crew to essentially rig in favor of the Spurs.

“Obviously, everybody knows I refereed one of those famous games with the San Antonio Spurs where [the Suns] were definitely the better team in that series and San Antonio went on to win that series,” he said.

“Tommy Nunez, who was the group supervisor at that time for that series, didn’t like Sarver, who was the owner of the Suns at that time, and was always pointing out in the tape sessions of things to call against Phoenix and things not to concentrate on against San Antonio,” Donaghy said. “And I think it put San Antonio at an advantage.”

As you can see in the below montage if you don’t remember from that time, it was getting to the Suns.

Steve Nash, in particular, was visibly upset with the officials, something he didn’t often do in his career. Mike D’Antoni received a technical foul in the fourth quarter.

Donaghy is on the laundry list of moments throughout the franchise’s history that have continued to see them elude a championship.

Penguin Air

Penguin Air

Phoenix Suns

Follow @KellanOlson...
Kellan Olson

Phoenix Suns moving forward from Robert Sarver report, mindful of victims

The Phoenix Suns will be sympathetic toward those affected by Robert Sarver's actions and words while moving forward and improving.
1 day ago
Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton speaks with the media at the team's media day (Photo by Jeremy Sc...
Kellan Olson

Subdued Deandre Ayton is ‘happy’ offseason got done, Suns matched

Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton did not exude much energy at his media day press conference on Monday after an eventful offseason.
1 day ago
Minnesota Timberwolves guard Patrick Beverley (22) plays in the first half during Game 5 of a first...
Jordan Leandre

Los Angeles Lakers guard Patrick Beverley had a media day highlight reel

It didn't take long for Patrick Beverley to start making highlights in his Lakers career. His media day was full of them.
1 day ago
Jae Crowder #99 of the Phoenix Suns reacts to fans after defeating the Golden State Warriors in the...
Alex Weiner

Phoenix Suns address Jae Crowder’s uncertain future at media day

Suns general manager James Jones, head coach Monty Williams and several players at media day Monday addressed Jae Crowder not being at camp.
1 day ago
Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams hands off the ball during a break in the action during the f...
Arizona Sports

Suns leaders ‘shocked’ and ‘disgusted’ by Robert Sarver findings

Suns GM James Jones, head coach Monty Williams and players expressed their disbelief in the investigation of team owner Robert Sarver.
1 day ago
Kevin Durant #7 of the Brooklyn Nets claps during the first quarter of Round 1 Game 1 of the 2022 N...
Kevin Zimmerman

Kevin Durant reaffirms commitment to Nets after offseason trade request

Kevin Durant said he's moved past an offseason trade request and is ready to get back to work with the Brooklyn Nets.
1 day ago
Donaghy: Dislike of Suns owner Sarver was factor in rigging of Spurs series