Whether you want to believe the NBA has an agenda or not is up to you, but if you’ve been watching the NBA playoffs this year there’s no way you couldn’t see some patterns with games. Take for instance what happened on Wednesday night in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals between the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers.
The Heat were up 3-1 in the series and LeBron James had a dominating Game 4 performance on Monday. The Pacers probably were going to lose the game if something didn’t change. So what happened? LeBron was called for three fouls in the first half and forced to sit on the bench. Then he was called for a fourth foul in the first minute of the third quarter … and he was called for his fifth foul in only 13 minutes of action.
The referees called fouls on plays they would normally let go. Usually they don’t call fouls on LeBron because he’s the league superstar and the reason fans show up to games. It’s almost always in the league’s best interest to have James on the floor. But, on Wednesday, it was like they were trying to even out the playing field and give the Pacers a chance to win the game by ensuring James could only play limited minutes.
It’s in the league’s best interest to extend series. They make more money that way, their TV partners are satisfied, advertisers get more for their buck, and it helps build interest in the series/playoffs. The league doesn’t have to control the outcomes of games, but they can do small things that have significant impacts like calling fouls on key players. It’s like they were handicapping the Heat by forcing James out of the game. And Indiana still couldn’t take control until Paul George got hot in the second half!
What happened to LeBron in Game 5 was seriously disgusting, but the problem is you won’t hear anyone say anything about it. When players or coaches complain about the officiating, they get fined. Nobody on any of the networks that televise the games can say anything because their networks are partners with the league and don’t want to lose TV rights. It’s big business at stake. And if they do say anything, they’ll get a firm tongue lashing from their bosses or the league.
That’s why the only outlets who can point out the obvious in situations like these are places like LBS. You think it’s a coincidence that the referees put LeBron in foul trouble for Game 5 to make it at least a six-game series? Heck no. It’s the same reason Zach Randolph was suspended for Game 7 against the Thunder. It’s the same reason Chris Paul was called for BS ticky-tack fouls early against the Thunder. It’s the same reason the refs started called everything in favor of OKC in Game 5 against the Clippers. You know they want the Thunder and the Heat. It’s been obvious since the first round. All you have to do is follow the fouls in games and you’ll see what’s going on. Just don’t say anything out loud, otherwise you might hear from the league!
Video via GIFD SportsGoogle+