Untold: Operation Flagrant Foul


Ever bet on the NFL out in Vegas? The NBA? If you’ve done this even two or three times, you’ll end up asking yourself: How on earth did they know?

How do the oddsmakers seem to know what the exact point-spread should be, almost every time?

If you have ever done this, Untold: Operation Flagrant Foul on Netflix may have an answer for you.

Flagrant Foul is a single-episode documentary (1 hr, 17 mins) that details the sordid story of Tim Donaghy, a top NBA referee in the early 2000’s who ends up federally prosecuted on wire fraud and gambling charges.

It’s the fascinating story of a nice Catholic school boy whose whole life was basketball, who achieved his dream of becoming a well-paid NBA referee… and who managed, as he puts it, to totally “(blank) his life up.”

The story is told through interviews with the principal players, including Donaghy and his childhood buddies/co-conspirators (who are right from central casting). Suffice to say there are mob connections (in a gambling story? No!), legal wrangles, and a good amount of intrigue.

There’s also plenty of footage of old NBA games. And cast in this light, let’s just say the competition looks decidely different…. (It seems the gripes of some very big NBA names were quite justified).

The story has a descending quality, as the curtain starts to come down on the scheme’s architects. Ultimately, after Donaghy is collared, the question of how far his culpability extends remains open.

Which leads to the story’s most compelling twist, involving Donaghy’s own allegations and the FBI investigation. What results is finger-pointing between the lawyers, the perps, and the lead FBI agent — somebody here is lying. (Suffice to say, having worked plenty of undercover operations: I believe the agent, who is a highly experienced investigator).

And the implications of what Donaghy contends — and what the FBI was onto — may shake your faith in professional sports. I know it did mine.

Untold: Operation Flagrant Foul is well-worth the hour. Watch it with someone else, so you can debate what the truth is. But as to ever getting the whole story? I wouldn’t bet on it. (Sorry — couldn’t resist).

Have a nice weekend! And we’ll see you Monday morning.

PS: Oh! And one of our previous Weekend Buff recommendations — which we pointed out was very hard to find — just went live on Amazon Prime (see here).

Maybe Bezos is a secret subscriber…?


Paul Mauro


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