Remember the opening sequence of Jerry Maguire in which Jerry laments the slow disintegration of Sport?  That “lately it’s gotten worse” – the criminality and the nefarious influence of the dollar?   

This week is Armageddon, and the Donaghy story is the culmination of the trashiest sports month in recent memory.  The difference between Donaghy and Vick or Bonds is that, as players, the latter two are merely our creations.  We sketch these guys as comic book heroes and ascribe them personae composed of various superpowers.  That doesn’t exonerate guys like Bonds or Vick from anything they’ve done, but they aren’t part of the sporting infrastructure the way Donaghy is.  And that’s what makes this story so unpalatable – it hits the Association on an institutional level.  It’s sort of like the delineation that Jewish law makes between man-against-man sins and man-against-God sins.  The first is an indictment on the material world because you’ve screwed with a fellow being.  But mocking God –- provided you’re into the higher power stuff – is a metaphysical crime.  

Simmons is largely correct.  No matter how this shakes out, Donaghy’s crimes will hang over the sport for our lifetime. But as much as the reality of Donaghy besmirches the past –- the PHX-San Antonio Game Three most prominently – the scandal actually bolsters the future integrity of the league:

Is there anyone who seriously doubts that 2007-2008 NBA season will be the most carefully refereed collection of sporting events in modern history?

So far as the Association repairing the relationship between itself and its fans?  Please.  Sports fans will sublimate just about anything to get our fix.  We're like battered spouses.  We'll come back, whether we should or not.