Did the NBA quash the publication of a Random House book?

>> Wednesday, October 28, 2009

According to this story, that's what happened.

The most disturbing aspect of Deadspin's account is that apparently the NBA didn't claim that particular statements in the book were inaccurate. (Indeed it's not clear that anyone in the league office has even seen a copy of the book). The league's lawyers simply told Random House that if it went ahead with the book's publication the league would file a libel suit. Obviously Random House shouldn't be publishing libelous material, but a book like this doesn't get to within a month of publication at a major publisher without everything in it being vetted by the publisher's legal department.

I've always been puzzled by how little of a hit the NBA took from the Tim Donaghy scandal. In theory this should have been one of the worst PR nightmares a professional sports league could suffer: to have one of its officials exposed as a compulsive gambler who was betting on games that he himself was officiating. In practice the league seems to have suffered no measurable damage.

That might change if Donaghy's allegations, made in court filings by his lawyer and elaborated on in the quashed book, that the sixth game of the 2002 Western Conference Finals was fixed, turn out to be plausible.

Now on the one hand, as NBA commissioner David Stern points out, Donaghy's credibility is low. On the other hand, the officiating in that game could have turned Dick Cheney into a 9/11 Truther.

But first Donaghy has to find a publisher who doesn't take orders from David Stern's lawyers.


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