In the midst of a relatively slow period in the sports calendar (especially for those of us who only casually follow the NBA and NHL) comes one major story: the NBA playoffs aren’t fixed.
With the Tim Donaghy scandal and Bill Simmons’ endless theories on the state of the NBA’s referees and the influence of the all-powerful David Stern, most fans have come to accept a “fixed” NBA playoffs as a fact of life.
All that came crashing down last week, as Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers were knocked out of the playoffs by the Magic, ending the possibility of a Lebron-Kobe matchup in the Finals.
The NBA, of course, would have loved to see a series pitting its two biggest stars against each other, and prior to the start of the Cavs-Magic series, that looked likely. Cleveland had rolled through its first two playoff series and the Magic had barely slipped past the Celtics. When the series started, though, the Magic were clearly the better team, overcoming several large deficits to win in 6 games.
Where was David Stern? When the Cavaliers were up 16 in Game 1, the refs couldn’t have helped them protect that lead? He couldn’t swing a few games to guarantee the highest rated Finals in a long time? I think we can put to rest all the conspiracy theories about an NBA that fixes the playoffs to get the results it wants. If Stern had any power, this is where he would have used it.
Officiating in the NBA isn’t corrupt, it’s just incompetent.