I Helped Fix NBA Games, Too

Every sport has its problems. Baseball has the taint of steroids and other performance enhancing drugs (viagra, anyone?), football has PEDs as well, not to mention cheating coaches, and basketball has referees shaving points. The problem for the other sports? They should be blessed with enough fans to make a controversy this big of a deal. Anyway, I don’t think it took Donaghy saying it for you and I to know that stars get preferential treatment. Who knows if refs were actually reprimanded after the fact for ejecting or fouling a star out in a game. That’s just speculative. But the stars get preferential treatment — we deal with it. Same thing happens in baseball with hitters who have reputations of good batting eyes and pitchers who work the corners — they all get the calls. In football, respected lineman don’t get nabbed for the holds while the rookies do. Just the way it works.

The problem with the NBA, much like boxing and football, is that too much of the outcome is put into the subjective hands of the officials. They have biases, they’re not all honest, and in fact, many of them can be on the take. It’s disgusting when you start to think about how much they could have impacted games you’ve watched in the past. They make you question decisions and calls. The tuck rule? The pass interference on Miami? The Roy Jones Jr. ’88 Olympics decision? These are just a few examples of many. It’s sad that we can no longer watch sports and know that we are always watching a pure entity.

Donaghy may be a piece of crap who is singing like a canary, but his words can’t be completely ignored. It’s not just in basketball where the corruption is occurring — it’s bound to happen in any sport where judgment is subjective and not black and white. It’s a shame it has to ruin sports for us in a way. I usually like to come to some sort of coherent resolution in my writings, but I think the best advice I can deliver is to tell you to ignore this when you’re watching games. If you’re constantly worrying about who’s on the take and what’s fixed and what isn’t, it will take the enjoyment out of everything. Besides, if a player takes matters into his hand by hitting a home run, throwing a touchdown pass, nailing a three pointer, or recording a knockout, then the refs really can’t do too much about it anyway (I take that back, sometimes they create new rules or reverse/alter outcomes). At least we can take solace in knowing that some aspects of sports can’t be fixed and that professional athletes make too much money to be involved with this (we hope).

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  • Gene

    I agree with you that all enjoyment will be lost if you watch sports with the idea that everything is “fixed”.

    However, I disagree that an in most instances a player can things into his or her own hands and overcome this bias. How many touchdown passes have you seen where somebody frops a little flag and the replays are unable to detect the violation. “Phantom” clips have resulted in many long runs being brought back.

    In tennis, a line call on a close ball could make all the difference in the world – if it were deep in the final set.

    In hoops, there is a very fine line between a charge and a block. Even the NBA people refer to it as a 55-45 thing. If the call or noncall is made early in the game, it can be overcome. if it is made in the last thirty seconds, maybe not.

    Even the rules of a sport are rigged to favor certain teams. Salary caps in the NBA were not the same for all teams, and still are not with all of the exceptions they create. Every sport wants teams in the big TV markets to succeed, so that the league can make more money, and all teams would benefit.

    I guess what you are sort of saying is that we should enjoy the sports for athleticism and consider it entertainment and not a competition.

  • SpinMax

    The problem with the NBA is how it is set up. In sports like baseball, you have management and Selig over here, players over here, and umpires over here. There is a separation. But in the NBA, Stern is basically the boss of the officials. He’s made statements before like: If you’re accusing officials of fixing games then you’re basically accusing me of doing it so. It is a conflict of interest.

    Stern’s priorities are to promote the league, get ratings, attention and make money!
    Officials priorities are the opposite: officiate games fairly, fans, friendships, ratings and money should not come into it.

    But since Stern is there boss, it’s natural to do what your boss wants. That is how you get promoted.
    Donaghy put it best, calling them ‘Company Guys’ who know what they are supposed to do.

    Would you be in the finals next year if you made calls that resulted in Stern handing Cuban a championship trophy?
    Hell no. During the Mavs Heat series I would joke on the air that they should send title rings to Delaney,
    Bevetta and Crawford. My prediction for the series was exactly this: If offiated fairly, Mavs in 6, If called unfairly, Heat in 6.

    Hell, what kind of sign is it when you have the Celts beating up LA all this year, yet Vegas sets LA as a -9 favourite
    going into game 3? Even they are assuming LA will get all the calls(which they did) and assuming that the public
    would also bet on that happening as well.


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