“I’ll never forget when Kobe was in a playoff series with the Phoenix Suns, and I forget who the defender was, but they called him ‘The Kobe Stopper,’ or he referred to himself as ‘The Kobe Stopper,’ and they would show us video of games previously of plays that fouls weren’t called on this guy holding him or defending him too strongly, and they wanted freedom of movement because they wanted higher scores in these games,” Donaghy explained.
He said, “They would show you plays and say, ‘This was a foul that was missed, and these three referees missed this play. Make sure you don’t let this happen tonight; make sure you call this when this happens.’ And that’s how they would program and train the officials in the next game to have more freedom of movement and have Kobe Bryant score more points and do well.”
Despite Donaghy’s statements, the Suns won the seven-game series against the Lakers, and Kobe scored below his average with 27.9 points per game instead of his usual 35.4.
Donaghy left the NBA in 2007 after being investigated for allegedly betting on games he officiated.
The former referee was sentenced to 15 months in prison but only served 11.