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Personal Foul: A First-Person Account of the Scandal that Rocked the NBA

3.75  ·  Rating Details ·  312 Ratings  ·  40 Reviews
The media has often speculated and sports fans have debated, but until now no one has known the real story. Personal Foul takes an in-depth look at former NBA referee Tim Donaghy and the betting scandal that rocked professional basketball. This is the decisive book that reveals exactly what was done and how it all happened. Which games were affected and how? Did referees t ...more
Paperback, 268 pages
Published June 29th 2010 by Four Daughters LLC (first published November 1st 2009)
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William Johnson
This review was reprinted from my website Secure Immaturity. Please check out the site and comment on this review and others.

The first thought that went through my head as I picked up Personal Foul, an insultingly cheesy title for a book, was, ‘man, Tim Donaghy is a dickface’, but I said it with a ‘meh’ quality. As I read the text and realized Donaghy is indeed a dickface (as well as an untalented, unfunny, ridiculously boring-redundant author), I said, with more energy, ‘man, Tim Donaghy is a f
Jake Lee
Feb 04, 2017 Jake Lee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've recently been very interested in the NBA; watching as many games as possible, watching videos on YouTube about anything related to the game, checking scores nightly, etc. So naturally I'm going to have interest in a book with explosive details of one of the biggest scandals to ever hit the league.
This first person account was incredibly eye opening. So much of the book is giving an inside look at how the game works behind the scenes, as part of the employees' everyday lives. And honestly i
Justin Mitchell
Jun 16, 2011 Justin Mitchell rated it it was ok
The most interesting bad book I've ever read. Donaghy is clearly not a very nice person, the embodiment of the jock jerk-bag who never grew out of it, which bleeds through even as he constantly tries to show that he's some sort of a fallen angel or something. He's also a horrible writer, piling laughable cliche over laughable cliche and peppering them with clumsy, ungainly, and inexpressive metaphors. However, as a huge fan of professional basketball, I found his insider's look into how referees ...more
Jesus Martinez
Jul 10, 2017 Jesus Martinez rated it really liked it
Growing up, I loved watching the NBA. I still turn on the game from time to time and watch my Pacers play. When I heard about Donaghy I was completely shocked. I never thought such things could happen. His book opened my eyes to things right in front of me. I read the book with a grain of salt, however. I can't believe it's ALL true but I do believe his story has stem from some form of truth. Overall, his account off what goes on in the NBA is interesting to read.
Dan Picinich
Just OK

The author spends too much time pointing out the flaws of others and making allegations. Seems to want to blame everyone but himself.
Dec 05, 2015 Lance rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was a scandal that rocked the sports world and made tabloids write some interesting headlines. When NBA referee Tim Donaghy was questioned by the FBI and later sent to prison for his involvement with organized crime while gambling on basketball games, it left the league scrambling to defend its reputation. Donaghy decided to write about his actions and how it led to his downfall after a successful career as an NBA referee. His book makes for some eye-opening reading.

What is most striking abou
Hasan Jones
Feb 19, 2016 Hasan Jones rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Personal Foul by Tim Donaghy is a action novel about a young referee coming out of Philadelphia and making a impact on players, coaches, and other referee's in the NBA. Just getting to the NBA he was the gambling type and calls this "the kiss of death". This gives me the idea that stage of your life you can actually be comfortable with losing money that couldn't even take a hit on your bank account. Anyway, This character loved the game of basketball so much. He showed this by shooting hoops, pe ...more
Feb 19, 2010 Trudy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this an intersting read... There was an unedited quality to this book - and by that I don't know that he actually had an editor or even know what company actually touched this hot potato to put it out there. That being said, it was kind of diary-esque... and not very high on the list of grammatically correct/coherent writings (but who am I to judge - lol).

I was vaguely aware of this scandal - can't say that I remember it when it actually happened, but as a fan of the game and having rea
Kamil Chmielewski
Feb 20, 2017 Kamil Chmielewski rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Unfortunate insights of how the NBA, is a capitalist corporation, trying to optimize their bottom line. Although, Tim is a little shady trying to save face from his wrongdoing, there are many incorrect decisions being made on all levels. However, still had Fun stories of NBA stars, referees and coaches. I would recommend reading it.
Jason Collins
Oct 22, 2011 Jason Collins rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Donaghy's chronicle of his journey from ref to riches and then all the way down to the jailhouse is the best story I've read in years - and it's a non-fictional one! Sure, he was once a crooked refereree, but after going to jail, he goes through the obligatory transformation to remorseful informant. But what makes this book great is everything that happens along the way. His dealings with the mob, the corrupt old boy network of NBA referees, federal agents, his rich cronies and his cellmates in
Feb 20, 2012 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An amazing confirmation of the influence referees have on NBA games. Tim Donaghy writes about games and referees that as a long-time NBA fan I recognize to be true. The Western Conf finals stolen from the Kings; how Jake O'Donnell hated Clyde Drexler; how David Stern tries to hide it all. Sure Donaghy gambled and screwed up, but it took someone who had nothing to lose to tell the stories we all knew were there.

Offending referees still call the games today. Some have their own felony convictions,
Corbett Stovall
Jul 04, 2013 Corbett Stovall rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sports
Certainly a fascinating tale, marred only by the fact that it would have worked better as a Vanity Fair article (that's a compliment, since VF is probably my favorite magazine of all time) rather than a full length book. Additionally, since it was self-published, Mr. Donaghy could have used an editor. Or at least a firm grip on the subjunctive. That said, the tale of moving from NBA ref to degenerate gambler to mob connection was interesting. Also, I loved the stories about the refs and the play ...more
Jul 07, 2012 Suzette rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
AMAZING story. Every sports fan should read this. This applies to the NBA, so no one is saying that every professional sport has this problem, but this explains how games are in fact manipulated as to outcome. Kind of scary stuff. No question this ref was the fall guy, because the crime that was committed here, the conspiracy was so much bigger than he was. He went to jail for betting on an NBA game, but in truth, his part was minimal. Don't take my word for it, you need to read this one(or pass ...more
Wow this book created some tension because he may have changed the outcome of some basketball games that were very important. Just knowing that some games were rigged scares me because now there will be speculations when NbA games are played and if one team is called for more fouls, we will automatically think the game is rigged. this is a terrible issue because now we think everything is rigged and we don't believe anything now. I think he was a selfish person and he ruined the game for everyon ...more
Dec 20, 2010 Neal rated it liked it
I'm not sure how much to believe about this book, as Donaghy comes off as having a huge ego, to say the least. He constantly stresses that while he bet on games, he never "fixed" them and that there is a difference. While much of the book can be believed and is disheartening to NBA fans, the overall measure of what to believe is unknown.

What sticks out is the info on the often debated Game 6 of the 2002 Western Conference finals, where everyone knows the Kings got hosed by the refs.

Worth a read
Lauren Ukkerd
If you are an NBA fan or even a casual fan this is a very good first account book written by a disgraced ref. I applaud Tim Donaghy's willingness to write the book and own up to what he did wrong. I have often said that the NBA is fixed and in need of repair so I was not really surprised at some of the things I read in this book. As long as the NBA is a player's league and the players control everything it will never have a lot of integrity.
May 31, 2010 Kimberlie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Walked into the library, saw this book in the new nonfiction section, checked it and read it in two days.

I had no clue as to the favoritism, vendettas, special treatment and dishonesty that is the NBA culture. Congratulations to former NBA referee and convicted felon, Tim Donaghy, for coming clean, paying this debt to society and rebuilding his life. It took a lot of courage.
Frank M Williams II
This really does explain a lot!

This book has a lot of information about the NAB and the cronyism that is obvious to so many. My barber told me years ago that it was ALL fixed. Sad. Sad. Sad.
Jun 29, 2013 Jason rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Wow, i had no idea donaghy was such a pathological liar, degenerate gambler and overall scumbag. yet he writes a book and tries to act as if he is a nice guy. interesting insight into the mind and bias nature of the nba though.
Jul 04, 2016 Bart rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Badly written as you'd expect - though with a rule of no more than three cliches per sentence - the book also fails to visit upon the NBA all the scorn it richly deserves for thirty years of rigging games. No more than a day should be spent on it.
Azar Mcmaster
Four stars for the content - the stories are absolutely amazing, and, skeptical or not, every NBA fan should read this book.

Two stars for the writing - frequent redundancies; the book could have been shortened by about 50 pages with some careful planning and writing.
Daniel Frank
I really really really don't care about tim donaghy at all, so everything about him was close to unreadable.

The rest just shows the contempt the league has for the NBA, how the refs are a joke and there are serious problems with the league.

is any of this really new? no.
Scott Herrigstad
May 15, 2013 Scott Herrigstad rated it it was amazing
A great read for anyone who watches or works in the NBA. I believe Donaghy is a better person for having this experience and has done a service to all by writing the book. I believe it often takes a good dose of humility to become a better person.
Bryan J Harris
Dec 18, 2012 Bryan J Harris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great read if you have interest in gambling or NBA basketball
Jon Galanis
Jun 09, 2012 Jon Galanis rated it liked it
credible? maybe. well written? not really. intriguing? absolutely. I think this is a must read for NBA fans.
Feb 24, 2010 Stan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting and eye-opening ... but not worth coming back to. Not sure any non-NBA fan would really enjoy this.
Aug 07, 2010 WAM WAM rated it liked it
lakers - miami.
lakers in 6.
May 29, 2015 Adam rated it really liked it
If you like basketball and gambling, this is the book for you.
Jul 08, 2014 Ejieok23 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
fairly good.
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