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Well, I was in denial for a long time, much like David Stern. But the signs are too apparent. But you knew that already.

Actually, I’m not sure I really believe Tim Donaghy a bit. After all, he is a convicted felon trying to get his sentence reduced, and I actually feel like if this kind of league-wide conspiracy was going on, it would have been exposed already. There are too many people involved, too much money is at stake, and quite frankly, too many sports reporters out there who would eventually get the dirt. That an league fixes its matches through the referees? The reporter(s) who broke that would be the Woodward and Bernstein of sports, journalistic legends. Think that doesn’t beat sitting around and screaming on “Around The Horn?”

What this really points out is that David Stern’s failure to take the perception of his league’s refereeing and it’s actual refereeing seriously has finally come back to bite him in the ass. I mean NBA diehards pretty openly say stuff like, “I’m sure they’ll extend the series by putting Bennett Salvatore on the case” and then he actually shows up for Game 3 of the finals, and then the Lakers get the free throws they need in order to stay alive. Stern simply brushes this off. Hopefully the attention Donaghy received will make him finally rethink that.

One of the reasons I kind of have lost full-time interest in NBA basketball is that in just too many NBA games, I feel like the refereeing was a deciding factor in the game. This should be unacceptable for any sport with integrity, but that’s just the way it is in the NBA. And its accepted by fans, but it’s kind of hard for others to take you seriously. I’ve been into this Finals series partly because I’m not worried that the league will favor one of these teams to win the title, they’re good either way. Not like 2006, where I felt like the league was out to create a new star in Dwyane Wade, and so he seemed to get the benefit of every call possible.

And I know these games aren’t fixed. It’s too impossible. But the fact that I walk away convinced is problem enough. It’s time for the NBA to get serious about making its referees invisible, they way they’re supposed to be. A plan that puts in place, the consistent calling of fouls no matter the crowd, the team, the style of play, who’s handling the ball, and how much time is left on the clock. If David Stern had been trying to get that in place instead of simply pooh-poohing and laughing off the conspiracy crowd, people wouldn’t be taking a convicted felon so seriously. Until Stern and his league takes these steps toward taking the integrity of the sport seriously, I’ll keep saying it:

Look, I’m not saying the NBA is fixed. But the NBA is fixed.

 

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