All sports leagues and their fans should take a long look at the implications of statements contained in a book released Friday by former NBA referee Tim Donaghy.

That doesn’t mean buy the book — more on that later.

In July 2008, Donaghy was sentenced to 15 months in prison after pleading guilty to two felony counts involving a gambling ring and his admissions of having bet on games he officiated.

In his book, Donaghy says he never fixed games because he didn’t have to.

“I usually knew which team was going to win based on which referees had been assigned to the game, their personalities and the relationships they had with the players and coaches of the teams involved,” he said.

He talks about how referees favored some players, how fewer fouls were called on stars in order to keep them on the floor and how he received from a gambler $2,000 per game when he accurately predicted the outcome, doing so, said Donaghy, based on the above factors.

The NBA appointed a former federal prosecutor, Lawrence Pedowitz, to investigate gambling and officials, and that report, dated Oct. 1, 2008, led to a tightening of many NBA work rules regarding officials.

All that was for the good, but the continuing concern should be with the almost subconscious issues raised in Donaghy’s statements.

Do officials favor stars, whether directed to or not by leagues? Have the leagues forcefully and unequivocally made it clear the rules should be enforced evenhandedly, whether fans or television like it or not?

Leagues need to deal with the hovering belief by many that officials have their own rulebook loosely based on the official rules. When is a strike a strike and when is traveling traveling?

Donaghy, as cited in the Pedowitz report, “acknowledged that he ‘compromised his objectivity as a referee because of his personal financial interest in the outcome of NBA games, and that his personal interest might have subconsciously affected his on-court performance.” But he has denied intentionally making calls designed to manipulate games.

It’s that subconscious effect that needs attention. Officials’ calls might also be influenced by what they think the league wants or how they think they are supposed to interpret the rules.

Pedowitz’s report cites NBA referees saying “… the consistent message from the League is to make accurate calls. It has never been suggested to them that they should favor a team or try to extend a series.”

That is a message that needs to be repeated loudly by the leagues to their officials, by the leagues to the public and by officials to anyone who will listen.

As for the book, it is always troublesome when someone like Donaghy seeks to make money by highlighting his crimes, be it on television or in a book.

Daily we see the absurdity of our “reality society” gone wild, with crackpots coming out of the woodwork to make money after they commit a crime or just act stupid.

One doesn’t need to buy Donaghy’s book to see the problem that needs attention.