Former NBA referee Bob Delaney talks about life as an undercover cop

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(PIX11)-- What do Bobby Covert and Bob Delaney have in common? They're the same person.

Before Bob Delaney refereed the NBA for 24 seasons, he was a cop working New Jersey streets.

Then Delaney went uncover for three years as part of a FBI sting operation to bust up the mob.

"I had this swagger about me," Delaney said. "I was hanging with the wise guys. Dressed differently. Smoked differently."

"The whole subculture that existed there, I became immersed in," he said. "And that became my life."

After sending 30 mob guys from the Columbo and Genovese families to jail, he got out of law enforcement agency and began to referee games for the NBA.

Delaney says his most memorable game was his first in 1987 when he called a bogus foul on Knicks center Patrick Ewing.

"The whole crowd was coming down on me," Delaney said. "The little boy inside of me came out when I saw my mother and she was waving her arms at me too. She thought it was a wrong call too."

"You know there's a problem when your own mother turns on you when you're a referee," Delaney recalled.

During his first year in the NBA, his reputation preceded him, he remembers an instance when Grant Hill went up to him and started patting him down, asking him if he was still wired.

"Don't worry last time I wore a wire 30 guys went to jail, but don't worry no one is going to jail tonight," Delaney quipped to Hill.

Delaney says the NBA gave him his life back. He is now the vice president of referee operations and now trains referees to learn the rules of officiating and helps them deal with the stresses of the job.

He also helps victims of the PTSD. His work has taken him all the way to Afghanistan.

"The men and women in the military are the highest risk group," Delaney said. "So that's what drives me to tell my story to help them because they serve us in ways we couldn't understand."

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