NBA Referee Scott Foster, Still In The Game | Wizards Blog Truth About

NBA Referee Scott Foster, Still In The Game

Updated: March 19, 2010

Editor’s Note: Adam McGinnis is the new photography assistant for Truth About Occasionally he also contributes with some excellent writing. Previously he wrote about Emir Preldzic, a Euro-stash player the Wizards acquired in the Ilgauskas-Jamison trade. Below, Adam writes about his first game on the job, the March 11th Wizards-Hawks blizzard make-up game, and his observations of a certain NBA referee.

Reflecting on my pictorial under the hoop debut at the Phone Booth and the Wizards loss to the Atlanta Hawks with Mr. Truth About It, I made a comment on how one official made some really bad calls that both teams were complaining about.

The most egregious were two inadvertent whistles in the fourth quarter that left players and coaches scratching their heads.

One was a momentum crusher.

A quick analysis fingered the ref in question was Scott Foster. Hmmm, the name seems familiar so it is time to fire up the Internet machine.

NBA referee Tim Donaghy made repeated phone calls to a second referee at the same time he provided inside information to professional gamblers during the course of the 2006-2007 season, according to court documents and phone records obtained by

The records show Donaghy placed 134 calls to referee Scott Foster — more than the 126 calls Donaghy made to his bookie — between October 2006 and April 2007, the period during which he has confessed to either betting on games or passing on game information to gamblers. The majority of the phone calls lasted no more than two minutes and occurred prior to and after games Donaghy officiated and on which he admits wagering.

With the exception of 150 calls Donaghy placed to Thomas Martino, to whom he says he provided “picks” to win games and who was the middleman between the disgraced referee and a bookie named James Battista, the ex-ref phoned no one more than he called Foster. During this period, the most calls Donaghy made to any other referee were 13.

[via – July 14, 2008]

Oh my, that Scott Foster! If only I could have kept my seats and exchanged my camera for beers, this guy would have felt my obnoxious fandom wrath.

(Side note, the biggest internal struggle with my close up view was not being able to overtly cheer for the Wizards, make fun of opposing players and ride the refs on bad calls.)

Some reports say Foster and Donaghy exchanged 304 phone calls between December 2006 and April 2007. Assuming that the window includes the full five months, that’s just over two calls per day.

Because that is what best brahs do, call each other every day just to chat about work, especially when they are traveling. Riiiiight.

The NBA conveniently cleared Foster in its report, there ended up being no Congressional investigations, Donaghy served his time in prison, and NBA Commish David Stern labeled Donaghy a “rogue official,” which Donaghy disputes in his book.

Foster opened up to the press in November 2008 about his relationship with Donaghy and those high volume of calls.

“I’m on the road 150 days a year,” said Foster, crouching forward in his chair. “It’s not atypical for officials to play phone tag from time to time. 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 Sports Center, 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.”

[via – November 4, 2008]

Foster further went on a PR storm by allowing USA Today complete access to his professional life.

There’s also circumstantial evidence that the wise guys were making a killing in Vegas off some of Foster’s games.

During the 2006-07 period under investigation, seven games refereed by Scott Foster had lopsided enough betting on one team to move the point spread by at least 2 points; those seven teams were undefeated against Vegas – meaning that the big-money gamblers won a 7 of 7 times on Foster’s games; the odds of that happening randomly are less than 1%.

Statistics alone cannot convict, but it’s certainly noteworthy that seven times in Foster’s games one team was bet extremely heavily, and all seven times that team won,” said RJ Bell of

[via NBA FanHouse – July 16, 2008]

The impression from reports on Donaghy’s book is that he covered for Foster, so maybe Foster is the victim in this situation.

Enough background info and back to the crap calls at hand. There were several calls that both teams were griping about but it is hard to determine their validity because NBA games are usually one big bitch fest amongst everyone involved.

Unfortunately, I do not have access to the video from that Wizards-Hawks game and the game log does not make reference to inadvertent whistles.

The first one blown by Foster was at some point in the 4th Quarter and had no real bearing to the on court play. I was initially impressed that Foster manned up with a “my bad.” I have witnessed refs at all levels of basketball just call a foul or something in many similar situations so they will not have to admit a public mistake.

However, the next whistle came a crucial part of the game and had a negative impact on the Wizards. Javale McGee’s dunk had cut the Hawks lead to four with 50 seconds left and the Wiz corralled a Joe Johnson long rebound miss on the Hawks’ next possession. McGee was poised to make an outlet pass that was definitely going to lead to an advantageous fast break for the Wizards when Foster blew his whistle from the other side of the court. Flip Saunders and his players looked on in disbelief as Foster explained his screw up again. Maybe Foster thought Saunders intended to call a timeout, but it didn’t appear that way. The Wizards could have cut the lead to two or maybe one on that fast break.

After the inadvertent whistle, the Wizards did call a timeout. The Hawks went on to rebound Blatche’s missed shot. Washington had a foul to give and Atlanta called a timeout to move the ball to half court.

Jamal Crawford caught the inbounds pass and dribbled it off his foot out of bounds. Pouring salt into the Wizards wounds, the refs called a foul on Quinton Ross instead of giving the ball to the Wizards. To be fair to Foster, his colleague made this call, but he gets partial guilt by association.

Crawford made one free throw and Wizards followed up with another miss to basically put the game mathematically out of reach. Washington did, however, end up covering the seven-point spread thanks to a last second bucket by Mike Miller … go figure.

The Hawks are a playoff team and obviously the 2009-10 Wizards are not. Foster and his crew’s F’d up calls did not directly cost the Wizards the game but they sure as hell didn’t help.

Foster’s poor performance was not lost on Wizards fans at Bullets Forever.

I try not to focus on officiating but this is at least the 3rd game I’ve watched (I don’t get to see them all) where Scott Foster has absolutely sh*t the bed. He was on the floor and completely blew the Knicks game on Feb 26. –Jheiser3

Scott Foster, I cringe when I hear this dude on the court officiating. –Unxpekted

Scott Foster, I will have to remember that name
There were horrible calls all night, and 90 percent of them were against us. It is funny when there is a game like the overtime against NY, where there must have been at least ten or more travel calls, and then last night they missed a bunch of travel calls. I really hate NBA refs, the game is never called consistently and I end up scratching my head at every whistle. –seewhite

hard to forget
After he was the on the other end of Tim Donaghy’s calls on most nights. –Jheiser3


{Good ol’ Boys}

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Kyle Weidie
Founder / Editor / Reporter / Writer at TAI
Kyle founded TAI in 2007 and has been weaving in and out the world of Wizards ever since, ducking WittmanFaces, jumping over G-Wiz, and avoiding stints on the DNP-Conditioning list. He has covered the Washington pro basketball team as a member of the media since 2009. Kyle currently lives in Brooklyn, NY with his wife, loves basketball, and has no pets.