Delaney, Bob 1951-

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Delaney, Bob 1951-


Born November 1, 1951, in Paterson, NJ; married. Education: New Jersey City University, bachelor's degree, 1973.


Home—Sarasota-Bradenton area, FL.


Basketball referee and writer. Worked in law enforcement for fourteen years, beginning 1973, as New Jersey State Trooper and undercover agent; National Basketball Association, basketball referee, 1987—. Also involved with the Easter Seals of Southwest Florida, and is on the board of directors for the Lakewood Ranch East Communities Charitable Fund.


Gold Whistle award, 2008.


(With Dave Scheiber) Covert: My Years Infiltrating the Mob (memoir), foreword by Bill Walton, Union Square Press (New York, NY), 2008.


Longtime National Basketball Association referee Bob Delaney began his career as a police officer for the New Jersey State Troopers. However, after his first two years on the job, he was asked to go undercover and infiltrate part of the mob. Delaney tells his story in his book Covert: My Years Infiltrating the Mob, which he wrote with Dave Scheiber.

As told in Covert, Delaney was initially recruited to work undercover in "Project Alpha" for a period of six months. He took on the identity of Robert Allen Covert, who died at birth just two years before Delaney's birth. As a result, Delaney became known to his mob "friends" as "Bobby Covert." In an interview with Chris Anderson that appeared on the Dallas Morning News Web site, the author explained that having the same first name was something they were looking for in an alias. He told Anderson: "We wanted to do that because if I was walking down the street and someone yelled ‘Hey Bob,’ I didn't want to have to think."

Although Delaney's time undercover was initially set for a half-year, his success led him to continue undercover work as he successfully infiltrated the Di-Norsico crime family. Overall, he spent two-and-a-half years undercover from 1975 to 1977. While Delaney and coauthor Dave Scheiber delve into the mob and the information that Delaney gathered that eventually helped convict twenty-nine people, they also write of a dilemma that Delaney faced, one that is not uncommon to undercover agents. As described by Anderson for the Dallas Morning News site: "He was in peril of stepping over the edge, if he hadn't done so already. He was getting too close to them emotionally." Anderson added: "He was no longer just a good undercover cop, either. He had become Bobby Covert, completely Bobby Covert, and he was fast forgetting who Bob Delaney even was."

The authors write about the final days of the operation and the day the police moved in to make arrests. "When that day of the raid came, I thought it was going to be tremendous," the author told Scott Howard-Cooper in an interview for The author went on to tell how he was brought downstairs as his former associates were being processed and how he felt when they discovered he was an undercover agent and not a "friend." "I was feeling guilty," the author admitted to Howard-Cooper, adding later: "We've all been socialized with the unwritten rule from the schoolyard—don't tell on your friends. What we do as undercover operatives is we get close to people and then we tell on 'em. That makes you feel guilty. You feel absolutely horrible. Not all the time, but it can happen."

The book also includes insights into Delaney's life after the undercover operation was over, including his difficulty re-assimilating into the New Jersey State Troopers. "Barracks camaraderie eluded him," noted Andy Solomon in the Boston Globe. "Others treated him like a Bob Delaney he no longer was. Some felt petty jealousy for the attention Project Alpha brought him." Solomon went on to note in the same article: "Veteran cops, including Joe Pistone, a.k.a. Donny Brasco, recognized Delaney's post-traumatic stress and urged counseling and a new way of life. He found it in ‘hoops therapy.’"

A basketball star in high school, Delaney eventually decided he would leave police work and, while still on the job, began taking a referee-training course. He retired from law enforcement and joined the NBA in 1987. In a review of Covert for Kirkus Reviews, a reviewer commented that "those who appreciate a good Cosa Nostra story, and crime buffs in general, will find much to enjoy in this energetic, often humorous and always entertaining memoir." A Publishers Weekly contributor commented that Covert "captures perfectly the daily routine and perils of undercover work, and describes the psychological challenges he [Delaney] faced."



Delaney, Bob, and Dave Scheiber, Covert: My Years Infiltrating the Mob, foreword by Bill Walton, Union Square Press (New York, NY), 2008.


Booklist, December 1, 2007, David Pitt, review of Covert, p. 6.

Boston Globe, February 12, 2008, Andy Solomon, "He Went from Courting Mobsters to NBA Courts," profile of author.

Entertainment Weekly, February 8, 2008, Steve Wulf, review of Covert, p. 72.

Kirkus Reviews, October 15, 2007, review of Covert.

Library Journal, December 1, 2007, Jim Burns, review of Covert, p. 136.

Publishers Weekly, October 15, 2007, review of Covert, p. 49; October 29, 2007, Leonard Picker, "PW Talks with Bob Delaney: From Foul Play to Foul Balls," p. 39.


CBS, (May 29, 2008), Gregory Hardy, "Hardy Vision: Writing about the Ref Who Knows Right from Wrong," interview with author.

Dallas Morning News Web site, (July 2, 2008), Chris Anderson, "Whistle-Blower: Bob Delaney Goes from Undercover Cop to NBA Referee.", (March 10, 2008), Scott Howard-Cooper, "Q&A: NBA Referee Bob Delaney."

Sterling Publications, (August 16, 2008), "Union Square Press Signs Book by NBA Official Bob Delaney."


Weekend All Things Considered, February 17, 2008, "‘Covert’ Mob Infiltrator Still Blows the Whistle," broadcast transcript, interview with author.

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Delaney, Bob 1951-

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