Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The NBA: Fixed?

Oops! The big news out of the NBA today isn't game three of the Boston/LA series, it's whether NBA officials are trying to fix the series.

Corrupt former referee Tim Donaghy just came out with two accusations that get at the integrity of the NBA game.

According to Donaghy, undisclosed persons in NBA league management have worked through referees to manipulate the outcome of a 2002 playoff series between LA and Sacramento.

Court documents filed by Donaghy's lawyer detailed the "inner-workings" of a plot in which top league executives used referees to manipulate the games. Donaghy claims two referees were "company men" whose job was to extend a playoff series in 2002 to a seventh game.

The documents did not name the series, but the Lakers-Kings Western Conference finals was the only series in 2002 that went to a seventh game, with the Lakers winning both Game 6 and 7 to reach the NBA Finals.

There's a somewhat analogous accusation that appears to be connected to a Dallas/Houston series.

Donaghy also claims that a 2005 playoff series was improperly influenced, saying that referees were instructed to call illegal screens more strictly on a particular player after an opposing owner called to complain after falling behind 2-0 in the series.

Though the document again does not name anyone specifically, Mark Cuban did complain to the league that year about the officiating after his Mavericks fell behind 2-0 in their series with Houston. Dallas went on to beat the Rockets in seven games.

Given Donaghy's convictions for gambling on games and all around sliminess, it's hard to just take his word for anything.

But so many calls in college and professional basketball are just so obviously bad that any reasonable person would have to wonder if the refs are under instructions to rig the game.

Maybe the game is dirty.

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