I never believed all those who tried to convince me the 1985 NBA draft was rigged. That is, until now. With the unjustified decision to suspend Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green from last night’s NBA Finals Game 5, the NBA has proved to me it is a corrupt organization interested not in fair competition but in making money.
The ratings for this year’s finals series between the Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers have been down over ratings from previous year’s finals. Ratings go down, revenues to the league decrease and the only way to increase those revenues is to televise more games. It was definitely not in the league’s best financial interest to have this series end in five games, so it took steps to see if the finals could possibly be stretched to the full seven games.
If this Green suspension had been an isolated incident in the NBA, it could be possible to ignore it. But it is anything but an isolated incident and all the other examples of corruption within the NBA also are attributed to the league’s desperate attempt to garner more income. Some say it started with that 1985 draft, the first time the lottery system was used, and lo and behold, the struggling New York Knicks, located in the league’s largest media market, wound up shocking the world by getting the first pick.
There are enough other examples of a rigged lottery, examples that I also originally dismissed, that are now coming back to haunt me:
- The 2003 Draft, where the Cavaliers got the No. 1 pick to select hometown hero and Akron native Lebron James
- The 2008 Draft, where the Chicago Bulls got the No. 1 pick to select its hometown hero, Chicago native Derrick Rose.
- The 2011 Draft, where the Cavaliers got the No. 1 pick one year after James left.
- The 2012 Draft, where the New Orleans Hornets got the No. 1 pick and Anthony Davis. Remember who owned the Hornets at this time? The NBA.
Then there’s the infamous Game 6 of the 2002 West Conference finals pitting the Los Angeles Lakers and the Sacramento Kings. The Kings were up 3-2 and playing on their home court, but the NBA’s coffers would be far richer with Los Angeles in the finals than Sacramento. In that game, the Lakers wound up shooting 40 free throws, including 27 in the fourth quarter. In 2008, a New York Times article called that quarter "a master class in bad calls, missed calls and miscalls."
There’s also another theory, which you can read for yourself here, which states that most of educated America is now convinced the NBA is rigged and, as a result has quit watching it. Therefore, the NBA is trying to market its product to uneducated or undereducated black males and doing that by doing everything in its power to advance the notoriety of certain black players, chiefly Lebron James and Kobe Bryant. If you look at the replay of the incident for which Green was suspended, it was James who initiated the action by walking over a prone-trying-to-get-erect Green. Green has every right to try to get to his feet. It’s classless and disrespectful for James to try to walk over Green’s prone body. The above cited theory notes that during the 2006 FIBA World Championships, James averaged 2.2 free throws per game, while in the 2008 NBA finals he average six times that many.
So call me prejudiced if you will because I am a huge Dallas Mavericks fan, but the above reminded me of inconsistencies in the 2006 NBA finals, that are now coming bak to disturb me, and they all occurred after the Mavericks, whose star was a white German, Dirk Nowitzki, took a 2-0 lead against the Dwayne Wade/Shaquille O’Neal-led Miami Heat. To wit:
- Miami stages a miracle comeback to win Game 3, a game in which Wade went to the free throw line 18 times.
- The Mavericks’s Jerry Stackhouse is suspended for Game 5 during the fourth game, which the Heat also won, because of a foul on O’Neal, who said, after the game, the Stackhouse hit was less vicious than a love tap from his daughters.
- The Heat won game five when Wade shot as many free throws as all the Mavericks combined. He set an NBA finals record with 21 made free throws and he hit the winning free throws with 1.9 seconds left in the game after not having been called for committing a back-court violation on that very same play.
- The Heat won Game 6 and the series when Wade went to the line 21 times and four different Mavericks were whistled for five fouls each.
Tim Donaghy, himself tossed out of the fraternity of NBA referees for gambling, also made some claims in his book as well as during a television show that, at the time, I did not put much stock into, considering the source, but I find myself giving more credence to after the league’s mishandling of the Green situation. Donaghy, talking about league refs, said:
"I mean, there are situations, and the referees are trained in the fact that, obviously, you don't want to be throwing the stars out of the game, or you don't want to be giving a star a foul that you can give to somebody else who's in that area. It's the way that you were trained. Obviously you don't want to give a Kobe Bryant or Shaquille O'Neal or LeBron James a foul that may be his second or third foul in the first quarter, to where he's going to have to go to the bench. I mean, it was openly discussed in meetings that, you know, people paid big dollars to see these stars on the floor. So if there's a situation where you can have two people to pick from, you're certainly not going to pick one of them, you're going to pick someone that's the sixth, seventh, or eighth man on that team."
But, you may say. Green is also a black player, so is it in the league’s best interest to target him? The answer is "yes," because Green has a history of baiting referees and that fact reminded me of something else Donaghy said:
"One player where referees targeted on a continuous basis was Rasheed Wallace. He was one of those guys that just constantly seemed to go out of his way to embarrass referees. And when you do that to the referee staff, you know, at times they would come together, and basically try to put him in his place, or try to get him in a position where, you know, he would stop doing what he was doing."
I find all this disturbing and now, with the Green fiasco added to it, I’m through with the NBA.