If you’ve read Bob Delaney’s book, “Covert: My Years Infiltrating the Mob,” then you know the story of the current NBA referee who, as an undercover officer for the New Jersey State Police, helped to bring down powerful New Jersey crime syndicates in the mid-1970s. NBA ref and mob undercover cop: That’s two lifetimes for most people. In one you’re mixing with criminals and tough guys to try and bring a little justice to a lawless world, and the other involves working with the mob.
(”Excuse me stranger, could you direct me to the Bada Bing?”)
When Delaney woke up this morning, he did not get himself a gun. Those days are over, but he talked about them recently in an ESPN radio interview. Some pretty compelling stuff.
From ESPN RADIO, Los Angeles:
“The entire time that I was working undercover, you live in fear, however, cops like to think of themselves as leaping tall buildings in a single bound and Superman kind of mindset. The military, paramilitary go through the same thing. You’re afraid you’re gonna be found wearing a wire and I was wearing a wire almost every day. In that world if you’re caught with a wire, they’re gonna think you’re an informant, and informants die.”
“I was good at doing undercover work, we’re all good at doing something at life, I could meet with the wise guys and kiss on the cheek and do the whole meeting routine. I’d get two miles down the road and have to throw my guts up, find the first gas station I could find because I had diarrhea. Now, I didn’t tell anybody that - I repressed a lot of normal reactions to emotions in those situations. That’s not a healthy thing to do.”
How did it all end?
“When the investigation was coming to a close, I thought it was gonna be the greatest day of my life. We were arresting these guys and I had been close to three years in an undercover capacity. The grant was six months, I guess we had an aggressive mindset, we thought we were gonna end organized crime in New Jersey in six months, it was almost three years.”