In Sacramento, 'I told you so' greets fixed game claims

The allegations of a former referee that a 2002 playoff game between the Sacramento Kings and the Los Angeles Lakers was fixed validated the conspiracy theories of Sacramento Kings fans. But the assertions of a disgraced former NBA referee Tim Donaghy — and their timing in the middle of another playoff series, this one pitting the Lakers against the Boston Celtics — also drew skepticism.

Donaghy did so in court documents filed Tuesday alleging that two referees manipulated the outcome of a 2002 playoff series with favorable calls to one team during Game 6, resulting in a Game 7 – meaning another game's worth of ticket sales and television ad revenue, as well as added attention, for the league.

The Kings-Lakers Western Conference finals was the only seven-game series that season. The letter states that two officials, whom he calls "company men," acted in "the interest of the NBA, and that night, it was in the NBA's interest to add another game to the series."

Donaghy is awaiting sentencing, having pleaded guilty last year to federal felony conspiracy charges after admitting to gambling on games. Donaghy's lawyer filed a second letter Tuesday that said the NBA is seeking $1 million in restitution from Donaghy.

Clearly, local defense lawyers said, the claims coming in the middle of the NBA Finals was meant to catch the attention of fans and the media.

"The accusation is attractive to Kings fans because the loss hurt so much," said William Portanova, a Sacramento attorney who has represented current and former Kings players such as Ron Artest and Justin Williams. "It would be nice to think we should have won; however, the reality is people in serious trouble lie in order to get more lenient treatment."

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