Wednesday, May 27th, 2009 at 9:00 am  |  60 responses

Conspiracy Theorists vs NBA

by Marcel Mutoni

The League’s dream Finals matchup is in grave danger of not taking place this year, but that’s not making the people who think that some of what takes place on the basketball court is a little too convenient for the NBA feel any better.

With the once seemingly inevitable Kobe/LeBron clash in serious trouble, the League wouldn’t do anything to tilt the remaining games in Cleveland and L.A.’s way now, would it?

The Arizona Republic explores the issue:

“There was (a recent) story in our paper, a headline about that very issue: ‘Magic fans fear referees,’ ” Magic senior vice president Pat Williams said. “Isn’t that something? Before a playoff series in Major League Baseball in October, you never read that headline, do you? ‘Local fans worried about umpires’ or ‘Super Bowl hangs on the refs.’ It never happens.”

This is not to suggest the NBA is rigging games. They’re not. But given the league’s rich history of coincidence, it doesn’t take much to get the conspiracy theorists buzzing. And at a time like this, it doesn’t help that Nike is running commercials featuring Kobe and LeBron puppets, along with the inherent metaphor that somebody on high is pulling the strings.

You can almost feel the stakes rising. The games are getting more and more physical, and the officiating is becoming a larger part of the story. In Game 4 of the Western Conference finals, the Nuggets and Lakers combined for 84 free throws and 55 personal fouls. The lack of flow was ridiculous, appalling. Meanwhile, Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals featured 86 free throws, 58 personal fouls, much bloodshed and a few stitches.

With that much official interaction invading every game, one side is destined to feel bruised, cheated. Given the anticipation and pre-ordained feel of LeBron vs. Kobe, the NBA is in dangerous territory here.

Personally, I’ve never bought into the theory that the NBA has any say into who wins Playoff games; which is not to say, of course, that I won’t be paying extra attention to the refs over the next few games.

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  • ENDS

    set up for greatest comeback ever?

  • BostonBaller

    1 Ads are funny and I never thought of th higher power string pulling part..good catch

  • ENDS

    i wouldnt run it past the NBA…Where Tim Tim Donaghy actually happend.

  • ENDS

    Now the Refs cant make the ball go in the Hoop. Lets get the ball in the hoop gentleman

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    How convienient would it be if the Cavs stormed back and forced a 7th game, on their home court, on a Sunday afternoon, a prime spot for NBA basketball on ABC and heavy ratings, leaving the burgeoning legacy of one King James hanging in the balance of one of the greatest comebacks in NBA history in a ulitmate Game 7 situation? Yeah, it can’t happen. Can it?

  • thesubwayconnection

    The only way they’ll force a Game 7 is if they win tomorrow night while getting Dwight his 7th technical – forcing Game 6 in Orlando with no Howard is an outside shot at best.

  • al

    I do think the League and refs can decide games in the NBA. The last foul on regulation on Lebron was just ridiculous.
    Just like Lebron travelling in Washington a couple years ago, and some others. (they do for Lakers too, and appart from those teams, they often act in boring series with 3-0, they want longer series (specially after 1st round), I believe)
    And I have nothing against the King. He is being the best by far in this playoffs.
    Besides that, it is still going to be a long series cause the Cavs are a very good basketball team, independently from the refs

  • riggs

    it was almost close for the magic/cavs game 3 when dwight howard “fouled” bron with the block, they had a chance to win had he made the three right after those foul shots.

  • truthteller

    Let’s not forget 2001 Eastern Conference finals between Buck vs 76ers. Ray Allen made a comment after their loss to the 76ers that everybody conveniently waived aside when he said that the league wanted to see the Lakers and 76ers meet in the finals and made sure of it via poor officiating. If Rasheed Wallace had said that we might have said, “whatever” but Ray Allen? Also, let’s not forget 2002 Western Conference finals btw Lakers and Kings. Need I say more?

  • http://www.manutd.com Z

    Seriously, Orlando are a bunch of whiners. I never hear them complain when Turk gets grazed on screens. If you look at the replay, LeBron tripped because of Pietru’s foot. Intentional or not, that’s ALWAYS a foul.

  • Rasheedionics

    Since when Cleveland become a big market???

  • Torrance

    What, is Fox Mulder in the house? Really, some of you guys… Bad reffing happens from time to time, you know, EVERYWHERE, ALL OVER THE WORLD! You’ll always have Tim Donaghys, EVERYWHERE, ALL OVER THE WORLD! But all this talk on conspiracies here lately. Ooh, remember that game, ooh, remember this game. Let’s all take a deep breath and start enjoying some mo’f'ing basketball, yes? Sjeesh.

  • http://slamonline.com/online/category/blogs/fear/ Freedom Fries

    is it still considered a conspiracy if you’re right? Oh and Dwight will mos def get T number 7 some way somehow – ohhhh drama!

  • Emmanuel

    lmao lebron did not trip on pietrus’ foot. he tried to ram into him and in the process he fell and pietrus got called for a foul. their feel never touch or get tangled up.

    not only last night but what about the game before when dwight fouls out on a clean block?

    nothing against lebron but the refs sure are helping him out a lot more than his teammates

  • http://indianz.com R3Z

    I have been going for the ref’s since 2000 hit. I cheer for them to actually call a travel or carrying the ball for years. For one thing I am sure that they have thier own agenda during a game. I was stoked when Timmy got called on to fight! Just shows how much a presence they have on the court. One day the will win for now I have to be content, when they blow an entire game, or just the leagues creditabilty!!

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com/ Moose

    This is one of those things that doesn’t have any proof, it’s only a conspiracy theory. We don’t want to hear any of this. Either way, fans are going to be mad about the outcome and blame it on the refs. And with Donaghy’s history and the endless complaints about NBA refs, there are bound to be theories like this about the refs *fixing* it. Lay off of them. But, to the refs: Let ‘em play basketball.

  • Yagga 868

    The fact that those are two puppets in the ads…someone has to be pulling their strings….just sayin lol

  • Fat Lever

    Z, it’s not a foul if you’re Kobe Bean Bryant…

  • http://www.broy7.com nate the great

    hahahahahaha. I do feel that the Reffs play a HUGE part in a game.
    just when your starting a run, and the refs call a huge non apparent call.
    it sucks all the energy out of your flow.
    *and the refs dont literaly put the ball in the hoop, but when your team takes 56 free throws of the 86, thats a possible 56 FREE points (if you make it or not.) so they can help.
    i have a big feeling that their is a conspiracy going on. but i dont wanna sound biased.
    i just dont like either of the lakers or the cavs. at all really.
    i like kobe. and i kno lebron is good.
    but i dont think they are either of the best, or will be the best in my mind.
    and i think the new up coming blake might be the only person to stop lebron if anyone has a chance in the future.

  • Cizzo

    The Reffs can’t save Clevland and David Stern can’t help LBJ it’s inevidable!!!

  • Stan

    If the foul on Lebran was called, verajao should have been called for a foul on the next play too. i don’t care if it’s a foul or not but the refs should call it consistently. lebron still had to make both free throws and he did. I could imagine ron jeremy pulling out his hair if orlando lost the game. This could have been 4-0 by orlando. wow.

  • http://www.twitter.com/Th3_R3al_Chris Young Chris MP3

    The NBA really can’t afford to have their refs blatantly give games away less than two years after Donaghy-gate. Dwight’s Tech needs to be rescinded.

  • Ritchie

    Remember everyone, the ball don’t lie.

  • http://www.sprint.com/pre dma

    @EBoy Cavs/Magic/ECF are only on TNT We Know Drama. And as far as the ‘bad reffing has been happening we should just ignore it’ mentality, does that really sit right with you? The NBA makes millions of dollars every year and features the best coaches and players. Should they have the worst referrees?

  • Richard

    orlando has been the better team. They are scary they are a really young team so i hope they whip the Lakers. I love to see phil and kobe lose!

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Izzo

    You’re all sheeple.

  • vtrobot

    i’m hoping the Cavs win, but i will say it sure looked like both bron and delonte traveled on two of the last plays of regulation. no calls.

  • http://vnsny.org Spaceship Jay

    Z, LeBron leaned his shoulder in to get some contact off of Pietrus’s chest. Pietrus moved back faster instead, therefore “sweeping the chair” from in front of LeBron. LeBron not recieving the contact he was looking for, fell over and collapsed on Pietrus. Blocking foul on Pietrus.

  • http://www.liveddb.com DDB

    The NBA is a few years removed from becoming the WWE. Stern just needs to be honest about things and people will accept it. They are still great athletes capable of amazing things!

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    I feel bad for Steve Nash… Without Donaghy the Suns MIGHT have won at least a WCF, maybe even a ring.

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    Co-sign Ritchie.
    The ball don’t lie.

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    LOL! Blake Griffin will be nothing like LeBron, nate. What are you talking about?

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    Good catch, dma. And I think if there was a Game 7, it wouldn’t be until next Monday anyway.

  • Stan

    There should be 5 referees during playoffs, 2 of them would be watching the game on monitors and will have the benefit of the replay. If they reviewed that game 3 lebron 3pt attempt that dwight was called for a foul on, those two refereed can reverse the call. At the same time, if they see the Verajao push on Dwight at the end of game 4, they can blow a whistle and call a foul.

  • http://slamonline.com DONONE


  • donovan

    If you think that foul call on Pietrus last night was just “bad reffing,” you’re obtuse. There was a time out before the play. Everyone knew what was going to happen. That was a premeditated decision by the officials to send LeBron to the line in the SLIGHTEST incidence of any contact at all, regardless of who initiated it. Why even play, if the dude is going to get to just randomly bull into people without any skill, fling the ball up and go to the line with an opportunity to prolong the game? The way the NBA is run in high-stakes situations sometimes is almost akin to pro wrestling, it seems — more just a contrived arrangement of hyped individuals rather than a true and sincere competition between teams. Watching the LeBron and Kobe puppet ads WHILE the NUGGETS and MAGIC are whooping a*s is classic. It’s almost like you’re supposed to forget basketball is a team game.

  • http://sportzin.com Joey E.

    you guys think no former players have come out and flat out say it’s rigged because of Stern’s Mafia?

  • Brian

    As far as future conspiracies go I’m not sure it’s possible for the refs to favor LeBron any more than they already do unless they were to start setting back screens on the Magic players.

  • playboy

    lmao. Three games lebron was bailed out at the end. Of course lebron tripped over himself when he used his shoulder to barrel into pietrus. I’m just surprised that the refs didn’t call the 3 he threw up a foul on dwight since they gave him every call. Lmao its funny watchin the replay when we see lebron jump SIDEWAYS into him tryin to draw the foul. HILARIOUS.

  • swifthammer

    The bottom line the refs in all of the playoffs have been horrible and all the players want is consistency, one foul in one game is a legal ply in the next game.

  • http://www.ihatelebron.com nate the great

    teddy i never said he is the next lebron.
    i said he out of anyone in the nba or soon will be the only player who has a chance to stop him.
    blake is big and strong, not as fast, but strong.
    he wont do much against him on offence, but its a team game.
    which is why lebron’s stink right now.

  • http://www.triplejunearthed.com/dacre Dacre

    Rasheedionics Posted: May.27 at 9:40 am
    Since when Cleveland become a big market???
    Since they got this young guy named James, and he came along and could put stats up like not many else and they started winning games and then China got involved – it was a pretty big thing, sorry you missed it…

  • http://www.triplejunearthed.com/dacre Dacre

    You want conspiracy? Guess which media darling just had their technical recinded?

  • http://http//www.youtube.com The Promise

    Well, I used to buy in to the whole conspiracy theory, but I really dont think that it actually happens. Sure, Donaghy bet on some games and stuff, but I think thats over. Like I said the other day, I think all the teams are getting way too many calls, not just one team getting screwed. I have to say, that last night, there were a few blown calls. The last possesion of the 4th quarter, where LeBron was trying to get to the rim, but trips over his own feet, but gets the call and ties it up. Dwight Howard gets tackled and theres no call. Its a matter of opinion, but I think that play was a foul on Varejao, flat out. Does anybody agree?

  • http://myspace.com The Truth

    Yea I agree with The Promise that prolly shoulda been a foul on Varejo, but it is a matter of opinions because both sides of either series get some calls missed and get some that prolly shouldnt of been called so I dont think there really is a conspiracy because GENERALLY not only one team gets screwed in a series. But, I know that Howard shoulda went to the line for a couple at the end of regulation of Game 4, just as LeBron did as he tripped. I mean Varejo tackled Dwight Howard for Petes sake. Am I the only one that is not shocked that that was not called a foul on Anderson Varejo?

  • http://myspace.com The Truth

    ****is shocked

  • http://sportsonmymind.com/ DK

    Those of you who do not understand that the NBA sways games are, well, shortsighted, at least. “The Promise” mentions Tim Donaghy like any good sports watcher —- but forgets that there was another official involved in the scam who was swept under the rug.

    Very few if any of you know that there were 41 NBA refs involved in an airline ticket scam that was, at the time, a violation of NBA rules and was tax evasion. Do you know that you cannot get the names of all the refs involved? I hunted down 21, but no more. And the NBA will not release the names – period.

    all 41 did exactly the same thing in that they sold their first-class tickets provided to them by the NBA and flew coach, kept the ticket price difference and failed to report the profits on their tax filings. However, only three were ever prosecuted. One was sacrificed and never officiated again, while two maintained their innocence. And one is a playoff official today.


    All of the others were able to keep their jobs.

    These guys don’t owe David Stern?…..

    And answer these questions as well: in ANY corporation is incompetency rewarded, unless $$$$$ are involved? And when incompetency is rewarded, crime is ALWAYS involved, isn’t it – because the incompetent acts are always PURPOSEFUL and never accidents, yes?

    Finally, the best way to look at this is to think of what is at stake. We all look at the immediate, the now. David Stern and the owners are looking at the next decade of profits of a global corporation. Forget the present, which players on which teams are the best for the FUTURE of the NBA?

  • http://phoenixsunsrising.blogspot.com/ Hersey

    Meh. As much as the Suspension series hurt, it kinda convinced me that Stern and his cronies probably try too hard to be fair. The Spurs are by no means a league darling and they benefited from 2 suspensions and a crooked ref. Lame stuff happens but you still have to win the games. Whining about refs is pointless when you have 48 minutes to win the game. Refs aren’t fans with instant replay, they are getting paid to keep a fast, physical game played by giants under reasonable control.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Blinguo

    That old theory about “Run N Gun” D’Antoni teams will never get to the Finals/Win chips, how about them Nuggets and Magic? Run and Gun, with defense too. Imagine that. Sorry Al Harrington.

  • ericmontross

    What about the league wanting its two biggest stars in its two biggest markets? If Lebron doesn’t win this year or next in Cleveland he’s likely to bolt to NY. Kobe and L.A. are still a top team two years from now if they keep their core. New York vs. L.A. is a ratings, marketing, and merchandise bonanza for the league. Lebron could have got that call in O.T. when he pumped and got Howard in the air.

  • http://www.triplejunearthed.com/dacre Dacre

    The Truth > That “Varejo Bear Hug” was a foul, just the technical at the time over-rode it…

  • Jay G

    Well lets s**t on this theory. 2005, the NBa could’ve had the Suns play the Heat in the match up of MVP winner Nash vs. runner up Shaq. Instead we got a brutal Pistons-Spurs finals. 2002 could’ve given us Lakers-Celtics, but we got Nets-Lakers instead. If the Cavs storm back to win this series it will be because Mo and Big Z play well and the Magic’s 3 point shooting goes south. The refs can’t make the Cavs defend the 3, stop Dwight in the middle, and help Mo get his groove back.

  • Jay G

    I forgot Stern wanted me to dedicate this song to you guys. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bUH7hlFYnxQ Just enjoy this great basketball.

  • http://www.triplejunearthed.com/dacre Dacre

    But they can start calling everyone of LeBrons crab dribbles…

  • macman

    The funny thing is that you say that the nba referees are not rigging games with absolute certainty. Why would you be so sure.

  • g i i

    hey Jay G – those reasons are why the commish is NOW fixing games. he doesn’t want a repeat of those garbage series!! LAL v BOS? nice. LAL v CLE? nice, as well. DEN v ORL? nice for purists, but that’s about it…

  • flash

    the nba…where conspiracy happens

  • http://mindyourbusiness@nosybutt.com Allenp

    David Stern is scared of the media and fan reaction to NBA fights.
    So, the officials have been asked to make sure fights never, EVER occur.
    Medai and fan reaction has driven most of the changes that we hate about the NBA. The ticky tack flagrants and technicals, the removal of hand checking rules, the flopping explosion, all of this can be tied to Stern’s attempts to mitigate negative press.
    Think about it.

  • http://http//www.youtube.com The Promise

    Jay G spoke more truth than any of you.

  • dhowardmagic

    I hate to believe there’s a conspiracy, but the refs are biased at some points. During most plays that involve a superstar (LeBron, Kobe, Wade), the refs decide beforehand whether they’re going to call a foul or not. Peep the vid of Bron tripping over his own feet then running into Pietrus. There was a nice long timeout and the refs decided that Bron deserved a call. Bron can put his head down, lower his shoulder and barrel into anone in the paint for an insta-foul because the refs have already decided. Does this go all the way up to Stern? That’s up to you…