How Many People Actually Think the NBA is Fixed?

Who's Supposed to Win this one Again?

First, why does Mark Jackson say, “Momma, there goes that Man.”  Somewhere Zumoff is sitting around shaking his head saying, “That’s terrible.”  On to business…

The referees and officials take a ton of heat in every sport.  In Saturday’s Flyers/Sabres game the referees were way too involved.  They took playoff hockey and turned it into a sideshow.  A bad home plate umpire can ruin the flow of a baseball game.  Jim Joyce cost someone a perfect game last year.  NFL officials can turn almost any drive by throwing a flag.  In all those cases, though, I’ve never heard much grumbling about the refs making sure one team wins. When people talk about the referees in the NBA, though, they speak as if it is common knowledge they have a mandate from the league to set up a Lakers/Heat final.

That can’t be good for the image of league, can it?  It must drive David Stern crazy.  Within an hour of the Sixers/Heat game ending yesterday I was in the car listening to a sports talk radio guy claim the officials had taken care of Miami (they took 24 more free throws) and helped them turn away a valiant Sixers’ effort.  Also immediately after the game the Sports Guy tweeted about the FT disparity in the first two playoff games (In the Bulls/Pacers game Derrick Rose took more FT’s than Indiana’s entire team).  Now, Bill Simmons is a noted conspiracy theorist when it comes to the NBA, but he’s also one of the most diligent fans the league has to go along with having 2 million sets of ears and eyes hanging on his every word.  He’s since backed off the claims about the Chicago game, but says the Sixers/Heat stats make no sense.

There are several things working against the NBA when it comes to this perception.  Honestly, they don’t do a great job of discouraging this kind of talk, even anecdotally.  The issues…

1.  A history of questionable playoff results.  The true NBA fans know these games by heart, I don’t, but it goes way back.  I heard someone talking about the Phoenix/Seattle Western Conference Final in 1993 the other day.  1993. Apparently the refs gift-wrapped that one for Sir Charles and company so they could meet up with Michael Jordan.  It goes on from there…

2. Tim Donaghy.  If the Black Sox scandal happened a couple of years ago, would you be skeptical about baseball results?  Donaghy may be a clown and a degenerate, but does that make him a liar?  If a fraction of what he said is true it proves a lot of the conspiracy theories.  If it is all true, then the NBA was basically a joke for a several years.  Donaghy is gone, but others and that mentality could possibly remain.

3. Their Star Philosophy.  The NBA set itself up as a league that marketed its stars above its teams.  They built iconic figures and so when LeBron changes teams the result is that his new Heat jersey immediately becomes the number one seller, and everyone outside of Cleveland has forgotten about the Cavs.  Kobe, Wade, LeBron, Chris Paul, Rose, Howard…these guys are the faces of the league.  Because of that, it is important for the stars to stick around come playoff time.  Miami isn’t usually a market that excites TV people, but that’s where the NBA’s stars happen to be.

4.  In my opinion, the NBA is the hardest game to officiate.  It’s like trying to decipher between pass interference, offensive pass interference and incidental contact 200 times a night.  The game moves incredibly fast, they can’t really use replay,  and NBA players and coaches are easily the whiniest of all whiny bitches.  It’s incredible.

As a casual fan, if I was confronted with the FT disparity in Saturday’s Sixers game I probably would have said, well the Heat are the better team.  They have the more aggressive offense.  Wade and James make their living at the line. Nowhere in that reasoning should there be room for the thought that the referees are putting themselves into the decision, but that’s all I was hearing.  It turns you off, because even if there is no truth to it, it’s discussed now almost more as a fact than as a conspiracy theory.  I just wonder how many people buy into this as more than a casual joke. We saw the Lakers lose today.  It took a perfect game from Chris Paul and Gasol was awful, but do we expect to see a yellow and purple parade to the line in game two?

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12 thoughts on “How Many People Actually Think the NBA is Fixed?

  1. Can we talk about Trey Johnson. How is this guy not playing in the NBA regularly? He needs a shot, I agree with Van Gundy.

  2. Oh, and the refs CLEARLY have a mandate for the C’s to win, after watching the Knicks game last night. Sooooo, in a one possession game they call carmelo anthony for a foul jockeying for position 25 feet form the basket with Paul Pierce (who is notoriously physical and was giving as much as he was getting), then the ensuing inbounds pierce two hand shoves anthony away from him to get the inbound but it’s not a foul? Ok NBA….Ok….

  3. well, i’m not going to pretend I know anything about Trey Johnson.

    Simmons said before the game that the knicks “should” get to the line more. The Celts ended up outshooting them at the line by 2. Don’t know if that’s really a big deal.

    Did the Knicks really let Allen take a shot to beat them?

    Maybe Rodney Dangerfield can slip the refs some money before game two, “hey, keep it fair, keep it fair.”

    • I think the Boston-Heat matchup in their eyes carries more national interest, but that’s purely conjecture. Also, I still think the NBA wants either Heat/Cs in the finals with the Lakers versus the Knicks. But again, that’s purely conjecture. I mean, it’s a generalized conspiracy theory, so just tossing it out there.

    • I think the Knicks are still on the way back up. It’d be great to get the NY market, but in terms of nationally, I still think the Celts and Heat have bigger profiles.

      so if you were pushing for the conspiracy argument you could go with that.

      I think if it ever had a chance of actually happening it would be in the later rounds.

      but, there are examples of it clearly not happening…like the year Orlando made the finals.

      Of course, I guess the refs can’t guarantee anything, they could only assist.

    • If I were the NBA I wouldn’t be worried about preventing the Knicks from reaching the finals. I’d assume the Knicks are plenty capable of losing on their own.

      • I think they’re more worried about the Knicks somehow upsetting the C’s, then the Heat roll over everyone. They need the Celtics involved till at least the conference finals.

  4. Yeah, i mean, not the best coaching job I’ve ever seen regarding letting Allen take the dagger. Then again, i think billups being hurt and out might have affected that a little. He’s a vet, so i’d like to think he would have been vocally/physically making sure Allen was wrapped up tight.

  5. Following up on this post, the lead story on ESPN right now is the fact that Danny Crawford was assigned to the Dallas game. Whether true or not, the NBA-referee-with-an-agenda narrative has really gone to a new level.

  6. It is hard for me to believe that the 2002 Western Conference Finals (Lakers v Kings) were not fixed. Google “Lost Champions” for the full story, or visit my website if you would prefer 🙂 Also, the slam dunk contest was clearly fixed this year so they could film the Kia commercial. I thought that was a bad move because it shows they are willing to fix that, and it really makes you wonder how far they would go.

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