NBA Finals Fixed,
June 1, 2001 5:09 AM   Subscribe

NBA Finals Fixed, Ray Allen all but makes the statement straight out. I have been hearing this on the radio over the last week or so. Could it just be poor officiating?
posted by vanderwal (36 comments total)
Just my view.

I think it's definately possible that it might be fixed. The NBA was at the top of it's game when Phil Jackson and Michael Jordan took the Bulls for 2 three-peats back in the '90s.

Commissioner Stern and the NBA are looking for the next Jordan. The Toronto Raptors' Vince Carter is an exceptional player, as is Allen Iverson, the League's MVP. They're best bet though is with Kobe Bryant, who actually played with Jordan in one of the All Star Games.

If it's truly fixed, the NBA may feel that a big duel between Iverson and Bryant may be what the audience wants. The Lakers are up for a repeat, and haven't lost a single game since the playoffs started. Iverson, regardless of the various injuries he's sustained, has managed to help bring his team this far. Philly hasn't seen a win in ages. They're definately thirsty for one now, imo.

That's not to discount George Karl and the Bucks. Karl was pretty successful with the Seattle Supersonics way back when, and he's doing great with the Bucks now.
posted by Cavatica at 5:56 AM on June 1, 2001

Poor officiating? In the NBA? Naw, Never!

Welcome to the NBA, Ray.
posted by dfowler at 6:27 AM on June 1, 2001

The NBA has been fixed for a long time. Can you tell me with a straight face that Jordan received the same officiating as everyone else? I'm a Sixers fan so I should probably keep my fool mouth shut right now, but the Bucks did get screwed in Game 5.
posted by whuppy at 6:28 AM on June 1, 2001

In the ESPN article Allen states he thinks the officiating during the regular season is pretty good, or at least consistent. He has problems with the playoffs, unlike Cuban of Dallas who has problems during the regular season.
posted by vanderwal at 6:52 AM on June 1, 2001

There's certainly an NBC conspiracy. They want their biggest markets possible in the finals. Like two years ago when it was the KNICKS vs. spurs. Even though the Spurs tore up the playoffs and the Knicks started out ranked 8th. network puts pressure on the league, league puts pressure on refs... I could see it.
posted by srw12 at 7:03 AM on June 1, 2001

IF you can fix an election, it should be no problem fixing (or at least nudging) the NBA finals. NBC and the NBA would never go so far as to "fix" a game, because if it came out it would kill the sport. However some discreet payments based on one or two questionable calls per game is definitely outside the realm of possibility.
posted by FPN at 7:12 AM on June 1, 2001

Whuppy's point is the one I like: the league's stars are given deferential officiating, and this has been the status quo for so long that changing it would only serve to point out the refs' improprieties. I'm not even a pro basketball fan, but the same could be said for ice hockey. Mario Lemieux, an owner [and therefore in many ways a superior to the NHL's referees], gets away with 90% of the penalties that other players receive. Justification? The viewing audience wants Lemieux to play the hero. Accountability? There is none; no one in the league ever publicly reviews the habits, trends, or biases of its officiating. Ask any Buffalo Sabres fan.

The problem with the NBA is that it has no star, and attempts to paint Iverson in hero colors will invariably fall short.
posted by legibility at 7:13 AM on June 1, 2001

It's time to replace the officials with robots.
posted by greenbaygirl at 7:24 AM on June 1, 2001

You guys are figuring out just now that money-driven industries are corrupt? I bet you're proud of the people you vote for in elections too.

posted by fleener at 7:29 AM on June 1, 2001

As a Milwaukee resident and Bucks fan, I have to disagree with the conspiracy mindset. The Bucks have been outplayed. The officiating has been inconsistent, the Bucks have gotten jobbed occasionally, but I can't accept an actual "fix."
posted by jhiggy at 7:30 AM on June 1, 2001

As a citizen of Chicago, I had to listen to this continuously throughout the 90's (and how the mighty have fallen since then).

Whlie it is true that Jordan has benefited from some lenient calls, so too did stars on opposing teams - indeed, can you honestly say that Jordan got more of a break than Magic did back in 91? As any basketball fan will recall, the Bulls weren't supposed to win that series.

And moreover, is seems to me that the "underdog" often recieves the benefit of any possible game fixing. Back in 96, the Bulls were up on 3 games to none over Seattle. Somehow the Sonics came back and won the next two.

Six games will always be worth more money than four.

Which, now that I think about it, might explain the Bulls dramatic come from behind win of the series in 91. Perhaps there really are cigarette smoking men that are secretly running the show. . .
posted by aladfar at 7:30 AM on June 1, 2001

Although, to be fair, things happen very quickly in basketball, more so than in most other popular sports (hockey and soccer being possible exceptions), and the refs are supposed to make split-second judgement calls. I'm not just talking NBA but basketball in general. In that situation you're bound to have bad, even horribly bad, calls from time to time
posted by srw12 at 7:36 AM on June 1, 2001

Y'know, I never thought much about NBC's influence in rigging the games until I saw a Bob Costas interview with Charles Barkley the other day. Barkley flat out commented that NBC rigs the games, and Costas sarcastically shrugged it off by saying "NBC ifluencing the outcome of an NBA game? That would never happen!" (I'm paraphrasing, but you get the gist here).

As an avid WNBA fan, I know that for NBC, it's about ratings and butts on couches. One only need look at their WNBA broadcast schedule to figure that out. Of the nine games NBC will broadcast this year, four feature the Houston Comets (the four-time league champions), with the New York Liberty, Phoenix Mercury and Los Angeles Sparks making up the rest of the matches. Teams with better players but in smaller markets, don't get the national recognition that a mid-afternoon game on NBC would bring, yet the WNBA wonders why national interest in the league is flagging.
posted by likorish at 8:04 AM on June 1, 2001

I don't know why Ray Allen is bothering to complain about this. In accordance with what Whuppy said, certain players in EVERY basketball league--not just the NBA--receive special treatment. Hell, I've been playing at the same recreational basketball center for 8 years now, and I know for a fact that I get the benefit of the doubt on most calls that the ref isn't sure about, simply because of my tenure in the league. It's just how things work in basketball. I'm not saying it's right, but it's just a fact of life. If you don't like it, you know where the door is...
posted by fusinski at 8:14 AM on June 1, 2001

The flipside is that certain players earn special treatment, and not because of ratings or $$$.

In high-school or even junior-high athletics you will see this taking place as well. If someone plays with assurance, dominance, and is extremely competitive, plus has the full support of the fans and his teammates, it makes it much more difficult for the referee to call him on minor fouls that could go either way.

Also, people like Magic of Jordan who have put so much of their effort into every day of the game will naturally benefit more from it, as referees are human and admire and respect their effort. I don't think anyone with a straight face can say that not calling fouls on Jordan had any real impact on his career. The truth is that by playing the game straight and hard for years, he earned the benefit of the doubt. It would be a shame if sports were completely devoid of humanity and were officiated by robots. Unless of course the robots were XFL-style sex-bots. Then I might be persuaded.
posted by FPN at 8:33 AM on June 1, 2001

You guys are figuring out just now that money-driven industries are corrupt? I bet you're proud of the people you vote for in elections too.


Oh my God! The scales have fallen from my eyes, fleener! One question, however: can you name for me a non-money-driven industry? Just, you know, so I can figure out where to shop and derive entertainment from now on. Hopefully, you can point me to a B.C.-style clamshell-driven industry. Also, thanks for the political tip. I must remember to stop voting.
posted by Skot at 8:35 AM on June 1, 2001

fusinski - It's obvious that Ray Allen is pitchin' his fit now, in an attempt to influence the officiating tonight. The appearance of impropriety can be more manipulative than payola.
posted by Wulfgar! at 8:37 AM on June 1, 2001

I can see the headlines now:

"Metafilter Blows Door Open on NBA Conspiracy"
posted by howa2396 at 8:42 AM on June 1, 2001

There's a big difference between the big televised sports in the UK and US, in that US commentators seem incapable of saying (or not allowed to say) that the officials made an outright bad call. At best, you'll get the standard "well, it's a close one", and on with the game. And it's that kind of forced politeness, I think, which raises suspicions over results. Or at least gives the appearance that myopic officials are getting off scot-free.
posted by holgate at 8:58 AM on June 1, 2001

You're flat out wrong about that, Holgate. One hears commentators criticize poor calls and questionable non-calls all the time. It's especially noticable in the regional coverage, but the big network guys do it too.

Besides which, whether or not the commentators are openly holding the officials to reasonable standards would seem to be irrelevant. They hold no sway with the sport's commissioner.
posted by brantstrand at 12:08 PM on June 1, 2001

Yet another example of dollars driving officiating: the NCAA tournament. CBS and the NCAA got millions in advertising for the NCAA tournament and lo and behold Duke ends up in the finals. Don't get me wrong, they were a good team, but it was plainly obvious to all but Dicky V that something wasn't too kosher in many of their games. Gary Williams, the coach of Maryland, hit the nail on the head when after an egregious call he turned to the CBS higher-ups sitting behind the scorer's table and yelled, "how bad do you want Duke in the finals?" Some other coaches sitting within earshot just nodded, seemingly saying that wasn't something they hadn't thought about. Oh, and he wasn't fined for his comments like many are after questioning a game's officiating. Speculation, though, can drive you battier, er, batty.
posted by crustbuster at 12:08 PM on June 1, 2001

US commentators seem incapable of saying (or not allowed to say) that the officials made an outright bad call

The only "sport" where I could see commentators holding their tongue much is golf, where there's a ton of rules on what they can criticize.

True, superstar players get preferential treatment by the refs (see Aikman, Troy) but that kind of goes with the territory. To throw that into a conspiracy goes a little too far.

the WNBA wonders why national interest in the league is flagging

Nobody watches the WNBA because it is boring and sub-par basketball (its almost like the XFL)
posted by owillis at 12:20 PM on June 1, 2001

You can cry about the reffing all you want, and surely the NBA does want big market cities in its finals, but nobody but the Bucks themselves have made the stupid plays that really cost them Game 5. A two handed shove into Ty Hill's back, sending him into the post and costing the Bucks 5 points? Those weren't Stern's hands. I agree that stars get it easier, but that goes in favor of Ray Ray as often as not. And let's not go on pretending for too long that the league really loves Ivy all that much. And don't even give me that shit about Duke. Gary and the rest of em got beaten because they couldn't come through in the clutch.
posted by whoshotwho at 1:10 PM on June 1, 2001

I love when they ask for Charles Barkley's opinion on anything NBA related because you can always count on him for the flat out truth. I have been an avid fan of the NBA since I was knee high to a grasshopper and I know that the refs give crummy calls just to favor a star player. Right now everyone is riding Iverson's tip because he's playing injured and sick bla bla bla. And the NBA does make more money if two big franchises play in the finals. I think Milwaukee was cheated the other night and I will watch with interest tonight to see if anything changes.

And Oliver that was a mean thing to say about WNBA. Those girls can ball. Have you ever watched Chemique Holdsclaw? I have been following her since she was at Tennessee and she is balling out of control. They aren't as testosterone filled as NBA players and they tend to be more team spirited instead of all trying to be the stand out superstar.

The WNBA rules just as much as NBA. Too bad we don't get to see all the good games.

And whomever commented about Duke bite your tongue. They are a stellar team. Everyone knows that any college basketball tournament worth its salt has to take a trip down tobacco road.

posted by summer1971 at 1:18 PM on June 1, 2001

The WNBA was promoted as "the NBA, with women". It isn't. It's pass, pass, pass, layup. Not exactly on par with Shaq/Kobe is it?
posted by owillis at 1:37 PM on June 1, 2001

As a side note, remember that Philadelphia is a town that has a municipal court in their football stadium to deal with drunken fans.

Lets go sixers. Lets go.
posted by mmm at 2:03 PM on June 1, 2001

First full disclosure, I'm a Bucks fan, always have been always will be. It comes with the territory.

I'm not a big fan of conspiracies but I think someone in the next ten years will prove that NBC and the NBA has manipulated the outcome of basketball games in the playoffs to get better ratings numbers.

After all, some head of NBC said on record that the network prefers to have teams from the coast win, it works out better for them financially and people will do almost anything to fatten their wallets.
posted by drezdn at 2:11 PM on June 1, 2001

The only "conspiracy" is that the refs will call fouls when you take it to the hole strong (Philly's game) and rarely call fouls when you pull up for a jumper and get touched on the elbow or wrist on the release. Both are fouls, but this is just how they call 'em. If it was Miami vs. Milwaukee, you would see the same pattern. Physical play gets rewarded in the postseason at the expense of finesse. You either have to change your game to adapt or execute perfectly to overcome the non-calls.
posted by gimli at 2:12 PM on June 1, 2001

Bleh. I was going to try to defend them some more Oliver but you are right so I concede the argument on the WNBA only. Everything else I said still stands.

And for whoshotwho....
Iverson brings the league lots of money. They are not about to bite the hand that feeds them. They may not like what he does off the court but on the court he is GREEN and that's the bottom line.
posted by summer1971 at 3:36 PM on June 1, 2001

ivy may bring the league money but they still don't love him. the fact of the matter is that if he weren't so damn good and were was riding pine in golden state or some other useless NBA franchise they probably would've tossed hima nd his tats outta here a while ago, somewhere in between the gun and the album. as it is he's the smallest, lightest, most unstoppable player, playing when he can barely walk, and they have no choice but to suck it up and get behind him. they've done plenty to bite his hand and now that they recognize they're coming around on the bandwagon. fuck david stern, what a shithead.
posted by whoshotwho at 4:37 PM on June 1, 2001


And Oliver that was a mean thing to say about WNBA. Those girls can ball. Have you ever watched Chemique Holdsclaw? I have been following her since she was at Tennessee and she is balling out of control.

Truly an intriguing choice of words- but I guess it proves your point, since at least off- the- court many of these NBA players set the gold standard for out-of-control balling... ;)

The closest to a conspiracy that could be done would be the selection of refs with different styles and levels of agressive play allowed (sort of the point Gimli made). Depending on the home team and the style of teams, the NBA head honchos could select for each game or for each series refs that call it to give a little advantage. Ultimately, the game's on the court but a couple more fouls a game can make the difference between winning and losing...
posted by hincandenza at 5:30 PM on June 1, 2001

Ha ha ha.... every year people say the fix is on, but it only seems to be the fans and players on the loosing teams. I respect and think Ray Allan is awesome, but seriously Ray a conspiracy like this would be too big for anyone to control so well or even hold together for a long period of time. I think he should not whining and play more like he did tonight (41 pts. and 9/13 for 3). Of course David Stern would love LA vs. Philly, it would mean more viewers and bigger ad revenues, but a fix? If the 1919 Black Sox Scandal, the LIU and City College point shaving scandals of the 40s and 50s, and more recently the Northwestern basketball point shaving scheme have shown it is that even a fix involving a limited number and that is acutely focused can fall apart quite easily. Image how fast a conspiracy as big and complex as trying to fix the outcome, or even the participants, of the NBA Finals would fall apart, pretty fast if you ask me.

Maybe LA and Philly will play each other for the crown because they worked hard all season, got lucky from time-to-time, and gelled at the right time.
posted by Bag Man at 12:54 AM on June 2, 2001

More likely it is a case of the home team getting more calls, which happens all the time. In game 5, I wouldn't say that the officiating was favoring anyone, but poor in general.
posted by gyc at 2:21 AM on June 2, 2001

Wow. Much talk of conspiracies... but absent from this discussion was Ray Allen's goal: to manipulate the referees. Think about it. The Bucks think they were slighted by a few bad calls in the game, and they want those calls to go their way the next time around (especially in Philly!). Ray was trying to generate chatter so that the refs become extra careful not to continue that chatter by making questionable calls against the Bucks in the next game. This was strategy on the part of Allen and the Bucks. And... it is part of the game, and done all the time. Officials are not immune to media talk... and the Bucks were trying to use such talk as a tool to get more favorable calls. If Ray Allen can make a conspiracy theory fly, then the implicit assumption behind all of it is that the Bucks did indeed get shafted. The truth is that if Big Dog would have hit the last second shot, then none of this would have been an issue.

Yes. Lesser players get less respect from refs than established stars... and, the home team tends to get preferential treatment too... this is not new. It is because the refs are human. But that is a far cry from the claim that the network actively uses its influence to sway the outcome of games to what is most profitable for them. Not only would NBC have legal troubles on their hands if they did so, but they would also alienate their audience and damage the sport of basketball in ways that would be financially devastating to them... and never worth the risk.
posted by karlcleveland at 1:23 PM on June 2, 2001

On the flipside, it's blindingly obvious that Jerry Jones pays off the officials before every game.

Yes, I hate the Cowboys. :)
posted by owillis at 3:00 PM on June 2, 2001

Either that or the Redskins just suck :o)

Innocent bystander
posted by summer1971 at 7:40 AM on June 3, 2001

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