Blog Entry

David Stern or your lying eyes?

Posted on: June 9, 2008 8:42 am
Just read a thread about the officating in Game 2 of the Lakers-Celtics series and was struck by the fact that even people who didn't have a horse in the race thought the officiating was horribly one-sided. Almost as if the officials were favoring Boston on purpose.

Is that a reach? Not when there's a 38-10 disparity in favor of the Celtics staring you in the face.

I'll admit it. I'm a conspiracy theorist. I think the NBA playoffs are rigged. Maybe not so much to decide which team is going to win, but to create maximum drama so the league's tv and advertising "partners" (more on this in a moment) get the most bang for their buck.

But how could that be, you ask? Wouldn't the secret would get out if the games were really fixed?

Maybe, maybe not. Tim Donaghy had a pretty good thing going for a few years and might still be calling games (including this series) were it not for the DOJ stumbling across the crooked ref in the course of another investigation. Point being, it wasn't the NBA that exposed Donaghy, it was the government. And though the Commish stood up in front of the cameras and expressed shock (shock!) at the DOJ findings, I'm not sure I buy it. I mean, the league was at least blindly acquiescent. We find out later that there were rumblings and suspicions, so maybe 1) the league knew and chose to look the other way, or 2) the league really didn't want to know. So the notion that the fix could be in without word leaking out isn't as farfetched as it might first appear.

The other reason I think the NBA playoffs are sometimes rigged is because I've never been able to adequately explain Game 6 of the 2002 NBA Western Conference Finals between Sacramento and LAL. The Lakers went to the line 27 times in that fourth quarter on some of the most horrendous calls in the history of the game, and I believe it was because the league wanted a Game 7 for ratings.

Most of the time, though, I think the mechanism the league uses to give certain teams a helping hand is not that ham-fisted. Certain crews favor home teams, certain crews are relatively immune to homerism. When the NBA wants to extend a series by ensuring the home team gets a win, it assigns a crew of homers. When it wants to give the road team a sporting chance, it assigns a crew less likely to cave to the home crowd. Pretty simple, really.

So the NBA has set up a great scenario for itself. The Lakers go down 2-0, come roaring back to take all three home games (or at least two out of three to keep the drama alive), and the series heads back to Boston, where there will be huge ratings to see if Kobe and the gang can pull it out.

Finally, is it accurate to call the TV people the NBA's "partners?" Well, that's not the word I had in mind. Let's face it, without the lucrative television package filling their coffers, the NBA would be well, the NHL, or perhaps the NBA of the mid 1970s, when the finals weren't even considered important enough to broadcast live, and certainly not in prime time. Let's face it, the league needs TV a lot more than TV needs the league, and there's no telling just how far the league might go to placate the TV types. So from where I sit, that makes the NBA TV's Bitch.

Believe it's all on the level if you want to, but let me ask you this: Who you gonna believe? David Stern or your lying eyes?
Category: NBA

Since: Jan 17, 2007
Posted on: June 11, 2008 9:00 am

David Stern or your lying eyes?

There was a time when I probably would have agreed with you Coach, but I think Stern is so arrogant that he's think he could get away with something like that.

Since: Jun 5, 2008
Posted on: June 10, 2008 3:26 am

David Stern or your lying eyes?

I'm gonna believe my "lying" eyes.
I hate Stern. Over half of the league's refs were found to have done illegal gambling (though many not to the extent of Donaghy) and David Stern completely ignores it. I swear Stern just wants to drag this series out as long as possible. I mean, it's great for the NBA's ratings having two to of the top sports markets playing in it and higher ratings equals more money. I'll bet anything this series goes 7 games because Stern will want it to. It's absolutely bullsh*t that Leon Powe gets more free throw attempts in 14 minutes than THE ENTIRE LAKER TEAM did in a combined 240 minutes. I'm not even a Laker fan and these games are ticking me off. I just want to watch some good basketball and that is being made impossible by David Stern.

Since: Dec 20, 2006
Posted on: June 9, 2008 6:58 pm

David Stern or your lying eyes?

Bozie: I watched a lot of that game last night. I'll say that after the three series Boston has played thus far - Bos/Cle, Bos/Det and Bos/LA, I'm convinced that the officials are calling many more fouls on the visiting teams. This was definitely the case in Boston's Cleveland and Detroit series. I can't say exactly why this happens; but it seems like crowd noise could have at least some effect.

I think conspiracy theories like the refs calling fouls on the visiting team specifically to extend the series are a bit far-fetched; but I'll confess that after the Tim Donaghy catastrophe last year, I don't rule ANYTHING out. I think David Stern would never orchestrate such a conspiracy -- because believe me, it would be leaked, and it would have devastating effects on the survival of the league itself. Maybe individual refs can be fingered, but not the Commissioner. It would be career suicide, at best.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or