June 2, 2009

The NBA: Not as Corrupt as We Thought

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.

9 Responses:

Anonymous said...

i think it IS as corrupt as we thought, but at the end of the day, the refs couldn't actually put the ball through the hoop for the cavs.

Anonymous said...

"Officiating in the NBA isn’t corrupt, it’s just incompetent."

That's what Simmons's column was all about...not some kind of conspiracy, just the ref's ineptitude.

Andrew said...

Let's not put the conspiracy theroies to bed just yet... the OWNER of the Orlando Magic said upon getting a 3-1 series lead that he liked their chances, provided they get a fair shake from the officials. This was probably said in a moment of candor that he would like back.

Bad calls happen at every level of sport, but can you imagine Jerry Jones, Bob Kraft, or any NFL owner saying that they like their team's chances in a playoff game provided the officials don't try to steal it for the other team?

LeBron Futureknick said...

Or, it is fixed and the NBA does NOT want the Cavs to succeed, thus causing LeBron to move to a big market team. C'mon, if you're going to buy into conspiracy theories, you need to have some imagination!

Anonymous said...

+1 on the "It IS as corrupt as we thought" theory. This season had more people speaking out on the issue, and the league most likely hedged to appear it was still credible. With this being one of Kobe's last chances to win one as the alpha, the league's choice on who to back into the Finals was easy.

Anonymous said...

NBA officiating is not corrupt. It's simply not humanly possible to officiate an NBA game anymore.

Magic Johnson's stardom made the Matador Defense necessary. Barkley perfected the backside-as-bulldozer "post" scoring that Shaq took to an even higher level. Michael Jordan made tough fouls on stars unacceptable, along with the disappearance of the Traveling violation.

The "rules," such as they are, are so hellbent in favor of offense and star power that no one can effectively officiate with them.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Stern had the refs throw the series to Orlando just to make everyone think the league isn't fixed.

Anonymous said...

A lack of rules is not the problem. There are rules against tripping, pushing and throwing a ball at another player, but none of those rules were enforced at key moments during the playoffs. In the Conspiracy vs. Incompetency debate, it's more likely to be incompetency at work, but sometimes the errors are so blatant that conspiracy begins to seem like a rational explanation. I mean, is it possible that all three refs missed Mo Williams firing a ball at an opponent in what ended up being a one-point win for the Cavs?

Anonymous said...

The NBA "FIXES" the Draft Lottery (from Ewing to Rose), Trades (KG & Allen to Boston, Gasol to LA and Mo to Clev) and timely official calls (not how many, but when and on whom the calls are made), but in order to FIX games, they need to pay players on both teams ... To date, that is the ONLY difference between the NBA and Wrestling!!...And the Orlando "Disney owns ABC/ESPN" Magic over LeBron does prove no corruption.

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