BOSTON (CBS) — Bust out those Tim Donaghy masks, Celtics fans, because an old friend will be at the Garden on Friday night.
Scott Foster will lead the officiating crew for Friday’s Game 3 between the Celtics and Heat in the Eastern Conference finals. He’ll be joined by Mike Callahan and Rodney Mott, with Sean Wright serving as the alternate.
Foster is the official who received 134 phone calls from disgraced referee Tim Donaghy between October 2006 and April 2007, as originally reported by FOX News. That was the same period during which Donaghy admitted to betting on NBA games. The report said that Donaghy called Foster more than any other ref and that he didn’t call any other official more than 13 times.
TOUCHER & RICH: Wear Your Tim Donaghy Mask
Donaghy’s calls to Foster took place immediately before and after games Donaghy was officiating 54 times.
The initial report showed the following call log from the day of Dec. 30, 2006:
10:34 a.m. – Donaghy calls Foster.
10:35 a.m. – Donaghy calls another referee.
10:36 a.m. – Donaghy calls [Thomas] Martino, the “middleman” between him and his bookie.
10:39 a.m. – Donaghy calls Foster.
5:15 p.m. – Donaghy calls Martino.
5:23 p.m. – Donaghy calls Martino.
7 p.m. – Donaghy referees game between the Miami Heat and the Orlando Magic. The Magic win in a rout, 97-68.
8 p.m. – Foster referees a game between the Toronto Raptors and the Memphis Grizzlies in Memphis. The Grizzlies win 110-104. Foster and Donaghy speak 12 minutes after the game.
11:27 p.m. – Foster and Donaghy speak for at least the fourth time of the day.
11:38 p.m. – Foster and Donaghy speak for at least the fifth time of the day.
The records also showed Donaghy making several calls to Foster on the days of games, generally for no more than two minutes.
The report also said that when Donaghy called Foster, he mostly used the phone that he dedicated to gambling-related phone calls, and the phone calls stopped abruptly when Donaghy said he stopped gambling.
“The only thing I’d say is that I love being an NBA referee,” Foster said in November 2008 while trying to clear his name. “What’s happened over the last 18 months hasn’t been fair.”
Foster insisted the numerous, short calls were just friendly conversations, and that betting was never a topic they discussed.
“It’s not atypical for officials to play phone tag from time to time,” Foster told Sports Illustrated. “Just today I’ve talked to two refs twice and two refs once. We go back and forth. I get to the airport and I’m in the security line, I’d give him a call. I’d be watching SportsCenter, I’d give him a call. It’s constant water-cooler chatter. That’s how we work out here. You have one or two buddies who you bounce things off of and share experiences with.
“I made a list of things [Donaghy and I] could have been talking about. It was about 45 things. It could be a family thing or who was hotter, Betty or Wilma.”
Officiating has been a focal point for this series, with the Celtics being given several suspect technical fouls in Game 1 and the Heat getting 49 free-throw attempts in Game 2, compared to Boston’s 29.
The website NBAstuffer.com says that home teams have won 75 percent of the games this postseason in which Foster was the main referee, with road teams getting called for 54.1 percent of fouls.
With many fans up in arms over the officiating this series, Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck said Thursday that there are no conspiracies at play.
“They’re independent people and they’re a bargaining unit and they’re a union and they’re not always happy and they’re not in anyone’s pocket,” Grousbeck said on Felger & Mazz regarding NBA officials. “There’s no manipulation of it. That doesn’t mean we have to all like how the games turn out or how the referees blows his whistle. But nobody’s orchestrating anything.”