Posted: 12/3/2012 11:52:22 PM
Dikk bavetta was a ref tonight in Utah...
“Watch,” I told my brother. “Anytime Bavetta referees, you’ll rarely see a blowout. When a team gets up by 20, he starts blowing the whistle like crazy.” And sure enough, that’s what happened -- one team got way ahead before Bavetta whistled the other team back into contention.
According to Donaghy, Bavetta’s tendency for keeping games close made him a favorite of the League. It also gave Donaghy an opportunity to capitalize:
From my earliest involvement with Bavetta, I learned that he likes to keep games close, and that when a team gets down by double-digit points, he helps the players save face. He accomplishes this act of mercy by quietly, and frequently, blowing the whistle on the team that’s having the better night. Team fouls suddenly become one-sided between the contestants, and the score begins to tighten up. That’s the way person Bavetta referees a game -- and everyone in the league knew it.
Aware of this propensity, Donaghy says he would often take the underdog when Bavetta was assigned to a game, and cash in as a result.
Since Donaghy maintains he made 70 percent or better on his money while leveraging these kinds of biases, we turned to economist Joe Price and his colleague Henry Tappen, who have performed extensive research on referee bias in the NBA. Price used his data sets to examine Donaghy’s claim that Bavetta systematically kept games close.