Fix is in! Disgraced ex-NBA ref Donaghy turns to wrestling

AP Sports

FILE – In this July 29, 2008, file photo, former NBA referee Tim Donaghy exits Brooklyn federal court following his sentencing after pleading guilty to federal charges that he took payoffs from a professional gambler for inside tips on games. The disgraced former NBA referee is back, and again this time he’s fixing the result, only with his employer’s permission. Donaghy made his debut for Major League Wrestling this week in nefarious fashion. (AP Photo/Louis Lanzano, File)

Tim Donaghy already brought the sort of crooked, scripted outcomes professional wrestling loves to the NBA — and lost his job and went to jail.

His newest employer, Major League Wrestling, thrives on those sort of shenanigans.

The fix is in!

That’s just fine this time around for MLW and Donaghy, the disgraced former NBA referee who pulled on the pinstripes and made his ring debut for the Florida-based promotion in typical nefarious fashion.

Donaghy was the latest wrestling ref to side with the bad guy and used underhanded tactics against Savio Vega to pull off the illegitimate victory. The bell rang at the end of the Caribbean Strap match and Donaghy raised the hand of the cocksure co-conspirator Richard Holliday.

They were in cahoots all along!

“Tim, you called that right down the middle,” Holliday said in the post-match interview.

“Absolutely, just like in 2007 when the Lakers played the Kings, everything was on the up and up,” Donaghy said.

OK, they probably weren’t laughing at NBA headquarters.

But for the 54-year-old Donaghy, the decision to tap into his heel persona for a payday and have some fun was a lock.

“I certainly am not shying away from the fact that I made some mistakes and I made some poor choices,” Donaghy said by phone Thursday. “It is what it is, and unfortunately I have to live with it.”

Donaghy pleaded guilty in 2008 to wire fraud and transmitting betting information for taking thousands of dollars from a gambler for inside tips on games, including games he worked. He was sentenced by a federal judge to 15 months behind bars.

Donaghy, who lives in Sarasota, Florida, was contacted through Facebook by MLW chief operating officer Jared St. Laurent late last year about making an appearance. Donaghy taped the episode in Orlando toward the end of 2020 and the “MLW: Fusion” episode aired Wednesday night. Donaghy’s controversial call gets a replay at 10 p.m. Saturday on beIN Sports.

The crooked ref gimmick is a staple in pro wrestling — Nick Patrick ditched WCW and joined the outlaw NWO; Hulk Hogan lost his WWF title to Andre the Giant because of an evil twin referee; “Dangerous” Danny Davis was the master of the fast count — and Donaghy hoped his new career in MLW would stick.

“Whatever they need me to do, I’m a team player and I’m more than willing to sit down and figure out what’s best for them,” Donaghy said. “It was definitely something that I couldn’t turn down and hopefully it’s something in the future, I can be part of it.”

Donaghy’s first foray into the squared circle was not calling a traditional wrestling match. In a Caribbean Strap match, Vega and Holliday were tethered together with leather and the objective was to touch all four turnbuckles in succession. Vega hit three straight when Donaghy froze in front of the fourth and blocked clear path toward victory. Vega pushed Donaghy out of the way but … it was too late! Holliday sneaked in and smacked turnbuckle No. 4 to win the bout.

“Come on ref, get out of the way,” announcer Rich Bocchini shouted. “What the hell is this? Come on now!”

Talk about a bad beat for Vega.

“It worked. I would be shocked if we didn’t see Tim again,” St. Laurent said.

Donaghy wrote a book about the betting scandal, had a movie made of his life story and now runs a sports betting website.

“The whole situation is close to probably 10 years behind me now,” Donaghy said. “I’m fortunate that I have a good family and good friends that have supported me. Things couldn’t be better.”

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