Henry Abbott's TrueHoop Blog - presumably, where one goes to learn the truth about basketball. Well, not so fast.
Today, Henry posted a mean-spirited, factually incorrect version my life before, during and after my career as an NBA a referee. While Henry would like you to believe that his version of the facts are correct and that he's just trying to 'get it right', the inferences that his readers may draw are unfair, biased, and contrary to the thorough investigation conducted by the FBI. When you read the piece, I hope that you kept in mind the age old strategy for the totally righteous to summarily dismiss and to discredit an individual whose original crime was dishonesty. Shame on you Henry, that's such an easy way out.
Let's do away with the most ridiculous element first. Henry tried to beef up his story by interviewing my book's ex-publisher, Shawna Vercher. Did you know that the one question Ms. Vercher has YET to answer, even when recently posed by the U.S. Attorney in New York is, WHERE IS THE MONEY owed to me from my book? I have not seen one thin dime. And while it's getting completely ho-hum, Ms. Vercher continues to deflect the attention away from her obligation to pay me, as well as her multiple and continued violations of our contract (and the law) and instead spends her time figuring out how to spin stories out of thin air about my credibility, honesty and integrity and planting 'new' ideas and theories about me as a person. We all know I gambled on games and as a result, spent a considerable amount of time in prison. I am rebuilding my life from the ground up and Ms. Vercher's habits of going for the jugular, feeding off of my past weaknesses and being a cyber-bully, are getting very, very tiresome. All I can really be accused of, where Ms. Vercher is concerned, is canceling my contract with her due to her failure to comply with its' terms and her failure to pay me my royalties. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned!
Getting to the meat of Henry's opinion piece, I want to shed light on certain points he tried to make. First, let's talk about game-fixing. I've said it once and I'll say it again: the FBI found that I told the truth. Part of their consideration in arriving at that fact, and why wouldn't it be, was evaluating the idea of fixing games. Further, the NBA looked very closely at this same idea - in fact, they spent $9930.02, money I am now required to pay back in restitution, to investigate the suggestion of game fixing. They found no evidence. I honestly believe that if the NBA HAD found any evidence that I 'fixed' games, they would have let me and everyone else know by now. Let it rest, Henry.
Polygraph tests, or more commonly, the lie detector, while controversial in its courtroom application, is a popular method to ferret out the lies that people tell. I offered to submit to this test for Todd Gallagher of ESPN, but it was canceled by Todd's bosses. I again agreed to submit, if someone would also conduct the same test on Stern, Bavetta, Crawford, and Ed T. Rush, so that I could ask them a few questions. So far, no one has arranged those tests. If the current administration and referees are interested in refuting my theories, and removing any suspicions surrounding their involvement in the NBA's conspiracy, please let them know that my offer stands.
Speaking of Bavetta, he has been conspicuously absent from these playoff games. Abbott kindly referred to me in his piece as the 'worst-ever example of a referee.' By contrast, many hold Bavetta in high regard, for his leadership and years of service as a ref. If that's the case, why hasn't he officiated in any of the 2010 NBA Finals and Conference Finals? Could it be that his tendency to try to bring the underdog back from the ashes in any given game was not how the NBA wanted to end up the season? I like Dick, I learned a lot from him, but I witnessed up-close his influence on the referees and more specifically, the game's outcome. The NBA was smart to let him start his summer early.
It's not too terribly curious that other referees have not marched forward in support of me. I have done the dirty work, and paid the ultimate price, so they didn't't have to. Why would anyone, with their own closeted skeletons, corroborate my story? Some of them are satisfied to let me continue to shoulder this burden, while they continue to enjoy the benefits, salary and perks of the greatest job on earth.
Henry, in hopes of lending credibility to his piece, trotted out Haralambos Voulgaris, a known gambling figure. I think this may be a case of the pot calling the kettle black. While I'm sure Mr. Voulgaris is a very smart man, understanding complex numbers and statistical analyses, please realize that the FBI also has access to databases and video and game reels and have done a thorough job at analyzing what I told them versus what they were able to determine from watching all of the games I officiated.
I think you get the idea of what I'm trying to say here. Listen, I've rolled around with dogs in my life, and have come up with a few fleas. What has amazed me, and has also thoroughly humbled me, is the surprising number of people who would not only like to see me fall hard again, but who would willingly put out their foot to trip me up in that effort. When Abbott gave me the courtesy 'head's up' about this piece that he wrote, he said, "I just want to get it right." Well, Henry, I'm here to tell you that not only did you NOT 'get it right', you did a woeful job at creating an objective piece, and failed miserably at any attempt at being nice. Every paragraph slammed me, only to be followed up by a footnote of my position. You merely wrote a position piece, a starting point for continued discussion about my conspiracy theory about the NBA. But Henry, like all other sports columns, call it for what it is - your opinion - and leave it at that. I have a lot of respect for your work Henry, but there's not much 'true' about this TrueHoop piece.
The recently deceased basketball great John Wooden once said, "be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are." I can't change my past, and therefore what people think I am based on that. But know this, Henry, Shawna and anyone else, I had 11 months to think about the person I want to be, and for myself and my four girls, I am working on my character from the ground up.