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Friday, July 20th, 2007 at 1:20 pm  |  82 responses

Rigged from the Top

Does the officiating scandal go all the way to the top? And Mark Cuban chimes in… sort of.

by Ben Collins

After two years that encapsulated everything that has become embarrassing about the NBA – the authoritarianism, the power hungriness, the sudden iron fist; the Amare and Diaw suspensions that effectively declared a 2007 NBA champion and the 2006 NBA Finals where one player shot 97 free throws in six games to help the Miami Heat become a championship team that would play below .500 basketball for the majority of the next year with the exact same roster, only to be told to squelch the notion that something underhanded was going on because it is silly and impossible and preposterous — this morning we learn this:

It turns out we were right all along.

This morning, the New York Post released a report that an NBA gambling ring is about to be busted up by the FBI. They’re accused of rigging point spreads, which doesn’t necessarily rule out that the win-loss column was affected. The ring includes mobsters and associates and, lo, an NBA referee. We don’t know which one.

Now, we’re left to the bane of our existence: guessing.

Could it be Bob Delaney? I mean, they made Donnie Brasco about the fact that he had to pretend to be in the mob all of those years? True story, they said, and it was. Could he have flipped again? Is that what flip-flopping has meant all this time? Could the allure of the mob reeled him back in? No, too romanticized, too “backwards fairy tale,” too Scorsese to be true. Plus, this being the Italian mob, of all mobs, is too much of a stereotype.

Could it be Dick Bavetta? Can’t be. The only gambling he does is Bingo night at the Unitarian Church down the street. Everybody knows that.

Could it be Joey Crawford? No. Too obvious.

But, the idea that this now infamous cheater can’t be Joey Crawford because it’s “too obvious” — he’s a notoriously partial referee and his actions, like ejecting one of the league’s players because he was laughing on the bench, already merited a suspension and would be too suspicious – brings on this point.

If there are so many patently obvious indiscretions and if this league’s officiating is saddled with so much bias and incompetence that it’s hard for any fan to at least even narrow down a list of people who may or may not have cheated, isn’t time to do something about it?

Isn’t it time to stop passing off partiality as fallibility because no other sport seems to have a similar issue? Isn’t it time to admit a mistake that you know is happening? Isn’t at time to talk about it? Isn’t it time to at least let other people talk about it?

Because, when we look back on this morning, that might be the most disturbing fact revealed today. The NBA had its objective moderator who was right all along, but they were too busy fining him and the media was too busy labeling him as “crazy” or an “eccentric” to actually take the time to listen to him.

“You know I can’t comment on this,” says Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who has accrued well over $1 million in fines for criticizing officiating in his six-year tenure. “But I like the direction you’re going with this.”

That direction? That today’s revelation is a much bigger league-wide problem of the stubbornness to admit mistakes beyond the singular crime.

Because the most disgusting part of the article may be well below the lead. David Stern, the Post’s Murray Weiss writes, is aware of the investigation and knows the referee under investigation.

Think about that: a commissioner of one of the four major sports in the United States was conscious of information that affected the outcomes of games and has yet to do anything about it?

Put this into perspective: Pete Rose, one of the best players in the history of baseball, was banned from Major League Baseball by Bart Giammatti for suspicion that he bet on baseball games in which he didn’t even play.

The commissioner of a sport who does not immediately suspend a referee after hearing the mere allegation of fixing games due to a mob tie-in is not playing it safe. He’s showing his allegiance to Stu Jackson, Ronnie Nunn in a fight against his owners, his fans and the integrity of the game.

So those who hear of these accusations today and think that they knew it! They knew it was rigged in someway but they’re just shocked it had nothing to do with David Stern.

Well, think again. Those who continually side with those in the wrong – those who continue to let these transgressions continue unrestrained — are just as guilty as those who commit it.

It is not preposterous. It is not silly. It is not, as we learned today, impossible.

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  • shawn kemp jr

    FIRST

  • http://whitehoteboysworld.blogspot.com/ white hot eboy

    Ben, hate the Heat much? If this ref didn’t do any Finals games in the last two years, that’s a good thing, but if he had a hand in any playoff games there really is going to be an outcry from the fans and the media. BTW, I feel like Ping Ping bouncing from post to post today. Anyone else?

  • http://why-bother-reading.blogspot.com/ H to the izzo

    It couldn’t have been Joey Crawford,he had his ban lifted by the NBA.I’m assuming that the lig knew about this investigation,they wouldn’t lift the ban of someone who is suspected of cheating

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ben Collins

    This isn’t even a Heat thing. No one should shoot 97 free throws in 6 games. He shot 47 free throws in two! Do you know what that does to the pace of a basketball game? It’s like watching a game of downers.

  • http://why-bother-reading.blogspot.com/ H to the izzo

    Eboy:Ping Ping has become an international hero,its something we’ll have to deal with.Eboy you have to admit that, in that finals if the reffing wasn’t cheating,it was at least showing star treatment.Wade might aswell have set up camp and charge admission to the free throw line

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ben Collins

    Oh, and Ping Ping makes my life worthwhile. He should be the next Life cereal kid. At the age of 20.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    Inflamatory!

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    Not saying we shouldn’t be up in arms about this ref thing, but Ben, if you want something really scary to write about…
    -Cheney to take charge of government this weekend
    *
    When President Bush undergoes a colonoscopy Saturday, the power of the presidency will transfer to Vice President Dick Cheney while Bush is sedated, White House spokesman Tony Snow said Friday.
    “Because the president will be under the effects of anesthesia, he once again has elected to implement Section 3 of the 25th Amendment to the Constitution,” Snow said during his regular White House press briefing. “Once enacted, the vice president will serve as acting president until such time that the president notifies the appropriate authorities that he is prepared to reassume the authority of the president.”
    This weekend will not be the first time Bush transfered his executive power to Cheney. When he had the same procedure in 2002, Cheney temporarily took over.
    “I did so because we’re at war, and I just want to be super cautious,” Bush said at the time.
    Bush is not showing any symptoms of colon cancer, and Saturday’s screening is just a routine follow-up on the procedure from five years ago.

  • http://getgarnett.com Reggie Evans

    I hope he didn’t ref Kobe’s 81 point game.

  • http://why-bother-reading.blogspot.com/ H to the izzo

    And by we’ll deal with it,I mean you’ll have to deal with it because ping ping is an icon,he is exactly what the world needs.Throw him into the middle east,he’ll find Bin Laden,give him fifteen minutes he’ll have the Palestinians and Isrealis playing scrabble and reminscing on the “good ole days”.He’ll reunite Cyprus.He will bring peace to Northen Ireland and food to Africa. PING PING 08′

  • http://whitehoteboysworld.blogspot.com/ white hot eboy

    I have amitted, several times, that a good majority of D-Wade’s free throws in that series were bogus, but that still didn’t win the games. If he misses the two free throws at the end of Game 3 the Heat are down 3-0 and that series is over, no matter how many FTA’s they gave him. I feel bad for Lebron this year, because they couldn’t give him 25 free throws a game or there would have been another call for fixing. Does this go back to when MJ played and got every call imaginable? (Favorite player ever, so that’s not hate). Was the fix in then, too? At some point the game is being played by the players and if slow-down basketball is to be hated, this years playoffs has to be the worst example of it ever and the ratings showed that all playoffs long. (Except for the Warriors)

  • http://whitehoteboysworld.blogspot.com/ white hot eboy

    Ryan, thanks for ruining my weekend. I know that will give you a small amount of joy.

  • http://slamonline.com mutoni

    solid piece.

  • http://www.perkisabeast.com/blog The Crack Staff @ Perkisabeast.com

    Let it be known!

    We were the first to ask for Stern’s resignation.

    How you like us now Mutoni?

  • http://why-bother-reading.blogspot.com/ H to the izzo

    Eboy:I suggest that you come up with this ref’s nickname since you did come up with scumbagf*ck

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    Sources tell me that David Stern and Dick Cheney are allegedly capos in the Bonanno crime family. All of this is related.

  • http://whitehoteboysworld.blogspot.com/ white hot eboy

    Izzo, I don’t think scumbagfu*k is well liked aroud these parts, so I’ll keep my naming to my own blog.

  • http://www.myspace.com/whyberickjames Greased Up Deaf Guy aka Clay Davis

    i see there are still some crying mavs fans. you see children, dwade went to the rim everytime while dirk shot jumpers…

  • k.o.

    well written. i’m outraged.

  • k.o.

    it doesn’t sound like i’m as outraged as i am. so…grrrrrrrr

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    Only a little, eboy.

  • chris

    I thought the FBI told Stern he cant do or say anything about this yet? Im sure when the time comes heads will role. The commish is gonna be in such a wrath he’ll proly eat the scumbag’s children

  • http://why-bother-reading.blogspot.com/ H to the izzo

    OJ would release a book:”If I Shaved the Points,this is how I would have done it”

  • Joel O’s

    Powerful post. Is Mark Cuban the Cassandra of the NBA?

  • http://why-bother-reading.blogspot.com/ H to the izzo

    Vicks Dog Man:I believe that constitutes a ban sice you were warned earlier.P.S Theres no need for you to promote your beastiality fetish

  • http://whitehoteboysworld.blogspot.com/ white hot eboy

    @ Izzo, LOL.

  • http://whitehoteboysworld.blogspot.com/ white hot eboy

    At both comments.

  • http://whitehoteboysworld.blogspot.com/ white hot eboy

    Izzo, I’ve been trying to comment on your latest blog and I can’t post one for some reason. Regardless, we need to figure out a way to get a copy of that e-mailed to the Lakers PR staff so they can work with 24 using your guidelines.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ben Collins

    My favorite part is that Vick’s Dog Man’s post got past the filter. I think he’s working at a level below spam, which is actually something he should be proud of. I’ve learned words in the spam filter before. It’s really quite a place.

  • http://why-bother-reading.blogspot.com/ H to the izzo

    Eboy:I’ve been trying to do the same with yours,it was a pretty long rant against scumbagf*ck and for some I can’t comment at all anymore,needless to say Blogger is my new mortal enemy

  • http://why-bother-reading.blogspot.com/ H to the izzo

    If I directed any comment towards him I would,I think you mean Eboy but we’ll let that go,you’ve had a long day washing cars

  • http://aspov.blogspot.com Cheryl

    Consider this: Stern is told by the FBI to do nothing while the investigation continues. if he suspends the guy, he’d have to answer to the media and you just know Cubes would be blogging about it because whoever the ref is, those games would certainly have had questionable calls. So, I’m not yet ready to jump on the mad-at-Stern bandwagon, but will wait and see how this plays out. –ASPOV

  • http://aspov.blogspot.com Cheryl

    children. remember there are ladies reading this site. use a little discretion, please. –ASPOV

  • Joel O’s

    Brilliant observation, Cheryl. He couldnt’ve done something during the season without it causing a big stir, which would’ve been even more disastrous. I’m just dying to know which games were fixed…

  • http://why-bother-reading.blogspot.com/ H to the izzo

    Your kind words are much appreciated Vicks Dog Man

  • http://why-bother-reading.blogspot.com/ H to the izzo

    Dog Man:Was that Dave Chappelle Black Bush reference done on purpose?I doubt it

  • http://whitehoteboysworld.blogspot.com/ white hot eboy

    I’ve got it now! Vick’s Dick Man’s name isn’t in orange so he feel’s left out. Sorry little boy, want a lolipop, or are you not done with your man yet. It had to be said.

  • http://whitehoteboysworld.blogspot.com/ white hot eboy

    Or maybe he’s jealous of all the Chukaz attention that’s been given out in the last few weeks.

  • http://why-bother-reading.blogspot.com/ H to the izzo

    Can we get back to the actual subject?

  • ForzaMilan

    good point cheryl. i think stern may have had his hands tied a little. i just hope to satan that he didnt ref the playoffs.

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    Actually, I just heard that Stern and Cheney are allegedly capERS in the BANANA crime family. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

  • http://whitehoteboysworld.blogspot.com/ white hot eboy

    Is one ref on the take enough to warrant tv contracts being pulled? And does this definitely kill the new franchise move to Las Vegas?

  • Daniel

    White Hot Eboy,

    Wade averaged 8 FTAs per game against the Bulls in the opening round series in the 06 playoffs. In the Finals, he averaged 17 FTAs per game, including 46 in the final two games that decided the series. Did he change his style of play between the first round and the Finals?

    FWIW, Michael Jordan averaged 10 FTAs per game at his height. Wade got 17 in the series against the Mavericks. So Wade was getting calls that Jordan was not, and he was doing it in an era where there is not nearly as much physical contact allowed, i.e. handchecking, etc.

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    I think Stern just wanted to cash in on some of the Sopranos hype.

  • http://slamonline.com mutoni

    Tim Donaghy

  • http://why-bother-reading.blogspot.com/ H to the izzo

    If one ref shaving points is enough to get tv contracts,does that mean that baseball shouldn’t be broadcast or that the tour de drugs should be pulled from tv(which it was in Germany)
    Dog man:Have you ever heard of parody and irony?

  • http://whitehoteboysworld.blogspot.com/ white hot eboy

    I’m glad you figured it out, little boy, and I’m even more impressed you used my blog. You really are the best thing to happen to the SLAM site since…………….can’t really say because the rest of the site and the posters are all classy (except Ryan) :)

  • ForzaMilan

    who is to blame for this then? just the ref? the whole league? the administration? maybe the people who have high, high standards for the nba? organized crime is the real bitch. if i was president i’d hae all suspects killed, get arrested for life and death, but then say, man it was worth it. i made the world a better place.

  • http://whitehoteboysworld.blogspot.com/ white hot eboy

    Daniel, you’re right, but as Greased up said a few posts ago, Wade went to the basket over and over the last 4 games of the Finals so he really was putting the oneous on the refs to make calls or not.

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    Why are you guys taking that other guys bait? So pointless. Ignore him and he’ll go away. It worked with Kobe.

  • Drer

    TIM DONAGHY

  • http://aspov.blogspot.com Cheryl

    I’m gone for today, gang. This stupid sh*t is getting to me (sorry, Russ, it’s hard to ignore when it’s every other post). For whatever reason, my tolerance level is at zero. Have a good weekend.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ben Collins

    Cheryl — Lang and I (mostly Lang) are working on it. He won’t be back, I promise.

  • http://why-bother-reading.blogspot.com/ H to the izzo

    You’re a delightful man Ben Collins

  • http://whitehoteboysworld.blogspot.com/ white hot eboy

    Is it me, or have all of He Who Shall Not Be Named posts disappeared? I know the last Harry Potter book is released tonight but that’s pretty magical.

  • whereisbisondele?

    Ben — I keep seeing the references to Donnie Brasco, but wasn’t the real Donnie Brasco Joseph Pistone, rather than Bob Delaney?

  • J-Bird

    Donaghy reffed quite a few playoff games this season

  • Joel O’s

    Wow. Good job guys. Great success!

  • http://slamonline.com Lang Whitaker

    @White Hot: Call me Harry Potter, because He Who Shall Not Be Named has been vanquished.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    To hell with fixed games or Cheney in charge of the country this weekend — true injustice is when a long, proud history of wife-beating keeps you from getting a day named after you:

    Fri Jul 20, 12:23 PM ET
    Ike Turner will have the stage, but not the day, when he performs in St. Louis in September.

    Mayor Francis Slay has turned down a request to make Sept. 2 “Ike Turner Day.” The 75-year-old singer is scheduled to perform that day at the Big Muddy Blues Festival.

    Cathy Smentkowski, an aide to Slay, said that when the request “was brought to the mayor’s attention, he did not feel comfortable issuing it.” She declined to elaborate.

    “We were only looking to celebrate his contributions to the music industry. Many entertainers have checkered pasts,” festival director Dawne Massey told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “He helped put St. Louis rhythm and blues on the map.”

    Turner’s past troubles include a 17-month stint in jail on a 1990 drug conviction.

    He was depicted as a violent and abusive husband in “What’s Love Got to Do With It,” a 1993 movie about ex-wife Tina Turner’s life. In his 1999 autobiography, he disputed the movie’s characterization of him.

    Once a fixture of the nightclubs around St. Louis, Ike and Tina Turner met at a show in East St. Louis, Ill. They married and toured together before ending their tumultuous relationship in the late 1970s.

    Bridget Brennan, executive director of the St. Louis Healthy Marriage Coalition, was among those who didn’t want the mayor to honor Turner.

    “We believe there is a zero tolerance for any kind of violence,” Brennan said. “We would not want to honor someone who has publicly stated they have hit their wife.”

    Scott M. Hanover, a manager at Thrill Entertainment Group, which represents Ike Turner, said it was a “shame” that Turner’s troubled history still follows him.

    “People are living in the past,” Hanover said. “They don’t know the man I know. This ain’t 1962.”

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ben Collins

    Ryan, did you hear that Bobby Brown believes he’s being specifically targeted by Osama Bin Laden? (This is true, btw. I’ll have to find the link.)

  • http://whitehoteboysworld.blogspot.com/ white hot eboy

    Ryan, you just MADE my weekend! I laughed so loud the other people in my office looked at me like I have torrets. And Lang, your legend continues to grow.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    It’s Tourette, eboy. But glad I could help.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    And Ben, I missed that… need to see that link. With the big Dick in charge of the free world this weekend, such news may be the only way I’ll make it through.

  • http://nothinpersonal8.blogspot.com/ nothin _personal

    Sadly, I don’t think that even ping ping could reunite Cyprus. Trust me, I am from there, I know. Hell of a vacation destination though. Even with half our cities occupied… Funny that Izzo got to mention Cyprus today, it’s actually the the day Turkey invaded, 33 years ago…

  • http://aspov.blogspot.com Cheryl

    Ryan, you know if Dick’s pacemaker fails, it’s Condi to the rescue! (I think I’m right, don’t have my constitution in front of me…) And, I’m back. Thanks for that, Wizard. -ASPOV

  • http://www.perkisabeast.com/blog The Crack Staff @ Perkisabeast.com

    Sterno Must Go!!!

  • http://www.perkisabeast.com/blog The Crack Staff @ Perkisabeast.com

    The owners must clean house – EMPTY THE LEAGUE OFFICE!!!

    Put Rubenstein in charge!!!

  • BETCATS

    my opionon is that this is just another one of those things that the NBA will blaim on thugs, even if they had nothin to do wit it.

  • http://why-bother-reading.blogspot.com/ H to the izzo

    Nothin:Never underestimate the power of the Ping…Ping

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    That doesn’t actually make me feel much better, Cheryl.

  • BETCATS

    Ryan, call me a black man who knows a little somthin somthin about some poloticin but if Dicks pacemaker fails, its Nacy P to the rescue

  • http://aspov.blogspot.com Cheryl

    You got me BETcats. I just remember Alexander Haig saying “I got this” when Reagan was shot. He was Secy of State at the time. Either way, I don’t think Ryan will be appeased…

  • BETCATS

    Cheryl, its fine. Night school helped me learn that and it can help you too.
    Just kiddin, and keep reppin ASPROV, whatever it means.

  • DDC

    ASPOV = A Sistah’s Point of View. Cheryl your blog is where it’s at by the way. Great thought-provoking insight. I can’t wait to read your next post.

  • b-ball god

    I KNEW THE 2006 FINALS WERE RIGGED. THERE’S NOWAY THE MIAMI HEAT COULD HAVE BEATIN DALLAS.D-WADE AVERGAGED 40 PPG.35 OF HIS POOINTS CAME FROM THE LINE.HE COULDNT HAVE DONE WITHOUT THE REFREE’S HELP. I CAN’T RESPECT HIM HE FAKES INJURIES WENEVER HIS TEAM LOSES BIG GAMES.

  • http://quinielabox.blogspot.com Qbox

    Man! This is the biggest messageboard fodder in the history of the internet. I knew Stern was a criminal and I hold him personally accountable for this disaster. The integrity of the NBA is completely shot as far as I am concerned.

  • Drew

    I am not buying the conspiracy stuff. Stern is not trying to fix games. But the fact that so many people believe it points out the problem with the NBA. The refs take over games, they are prima donnas, they take sides, and they have way too much effect on the outcome of games.

  • http://www.friendster.com/sesa Sesa

    You sounded like Etan Thomas, Ben.

  • http://www.perkisabeast.com/blog The Crack Staff @ Perkisabeast.com

    It does make you wonder why Stern would waste his time on games when there’s better {expletive deleted} like the lottery to fix.

    456123, that’s how you spell the FIX

  • http://backcourtink.blogspot.com bootlace

    Nice post. While I dont know how much David Stern could have done to prevent this, he will have to do alot now that the public eye is on him. I expect alot of good changes as Ive indicated on my blog.

  • http://www.perkisabeast.com/blog The Crack Staff @ Perkisabeast.com

    Nice attempt to get up to go over and read what you wrote on your blog. Whatever you do, DON’T READ OUR BLOG – IT’S DANGEROUS!!

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