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Disgraced NBA Official Tim Donaghy Makes Pro Wrestling Debut as Crooked Ref

Former NBA ref Tim Donaghy on the floor during a game

Tim Donaghy made his professional wrestling debut on Wednesday night, playing the role of the crooked referee.

During the main event of Major League Wrestling’s Fusion, Donaghy—the former NBA official who pleaded guilty to two federal charges related to gambling in August 2007—played the role of a corrupt official. He prevented longtime fan favorite Savio Vega from winning a Caribbean Strap match against Richard Holliday, instead taking advantage of his position and helping Holliday to victory.

Before the show went off the air, Donaghy remarked that he called the bout as fairly as he did while on the court in the NBA, no differently than the way he officiated games between the Lakers and Kings.

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“I think people are going to find it entertaining,” Donaghy says. “I was a little out of my comfort zone, but I think it went well.”

After being sentenced to 15 months in federal prison for his involvement in a gambling scandal while working as an NBA official, Donaghy will forever remain in sports infamy. The appearance for MLW marked his first time wearing those signature referee stripes since 2007, and he is open to extending his partnership with MLW.

“Wrestling is a form of entertainment, and I’m having fun with it,” Donaghy says. “It got a little more physical than I expected, but it was definitely exciting. Everyone was very helpful and professional, and I hope I’m part of it again.”