|Former NBA ref shocked by investigation|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 20 July 2007 11:50|
``If I were in that gentleman's shoes, that would be the worst nightmare,'' Benson said Friday.
The FBI is investigating allegations that veteran NBA referee Tim Donaghy bet on basketball games over the past two seasons, including ones in which he officiated. Benson said he'd heard rumblings about the investigation for about two weeks but wasn't certain of any details. He did give a glimpse, however, of how the news is affecting the officiating community.
``If you're hurting that bad, you need to get some help somewhere,'' Benson said. ``But to turn around and potentially jeopardize reputations and integrity of a bunch of good people who get questioned on everything from A to Z every time we take the floor anyway - it just is ... I'm shocked.''
``You don't wish ill will on anybody,'' Benson added. ``You hope that this is not right.''
Benson, 50, was an NBA official for 17 years. He worked his last game in 2005 before retiring because of knee problems. He now lives in Mountain Pine, Ark.
Benson said the league has taken a number of steps to try to preserve the integrity of its officials.
``Your bank accounts are open to the league. You sign a release. The NBA has its own security department, and the security department usually is retired FBI and Secret Service - we're talking career people ... that know what to look for,'' he said. ``When I was there, they would bring in an active spokesman from one of the branches of government. ... I think one year we had the Secret Service come in. I can't remember if we had the FBI come in one year. But they would get up and go through their spiel: 'These are the scenarios, and this is how you can get yourself in a mess.'''
Benson also expressed some sympathy for Donaghy, if the allegations are true.
``I feel not only for him but for his family,'' Benson said. ``My goodness, why put your family in harm's way?''