Why Officiating Is Having the Biggest Impact on the 2012 NBA Playoffs
Manny Pacquiao recently “lost” a much-disputed fight to Timothy Bradley in a decision which was so controversial it is now being reviewed by the WBO. If the NBA isn’t careful, it’s going to go the way of boxing.
There are a combination of things, which whether they are “fixed” or not is moot. They appear enough to be fixed that it is easy for anyone who wants to believe they are fixed to find “evidence.”
After an NBA strike that was as much an issue between small-market and large-market owners as it was between players and owners, David Stern nixed a trade that would have, at least in the prevailing opinion, benefited the large-market team to the detriment of a small-market team.
That the eventual trade went down involved literally the exact same two markets doesn’t seem to matter. In a sense, it shouldn’t. The Clipper fanbase is about the equivalent of a small-market team. They are clearly the second-rate team in the nation’s second-largest city.
Then the NBA, in their secreted lottery “draw,” revealed that the same small-market team, which they had protected at the beginning of the season and then sold at the end of it, New Orleans, “won” the lottery.
All of this is a backdrop to the playoffs. What happens in the NBA front office and what happens on NBA courts are inexorably linked in the minds of the conspiracy theorists. And really, why shouldn’t they be?
The NBA needed a big Finals to come back from the strike. They needed a big draw, and they needed a small-market team who could do that. That’s not easy to do.
Ideally the best possible situation would be the Miami Heat in the finals. People don’t cheer for the Heat; they cheer against them, and the people would love to tune in and cheer for someone else.
But how do your root against Goliath unless you have a David you can believe in?
Enter the Oklahoma City Thunder.
In the Thunder, you have the unHeat. You have the small-market team that was drafted and built the “right way.” All that stuff about how they got stolen from Seattle, we’ll just sweep under the rug because it doesn’t cooperate with the feel-good story.
In the Thunder, you also get Kevin Durant, the unLeBron. Where LeBron likes to step out of the big moment, Durant embraces stepping into it. Where LeBron has the alleged biggest ego on the planet, Durant is humble. Where LeBron rejected his hometown to chased championships with his oligarchy in Miami, Durant chose to do it the right way and signed a contract (for more money than LeBron got) to stay in Oklahoma City and do it “the right way.”
Pay no attention to the fact that James had done the same thing with his first renewal, as does every single major star player. Forget the fact that Durant was a restricted free agent who couldn’t have left if he wanted to. We’re talking about storylines here. We’re talking about perception, not reality.
This Finals which the NBA was desperate to get, they got. For a league which has worked so hard to work “perception,” you would think they would get that perception is tainting this postseason.
As soon as Derrick Rose went down, the Philadelphia 76ers started getting calls like they were a team of LeBron Jameses and Kevin Durant. The team which had taken the least number of free throws during the regular season was taking 26 free-throw shots a game against a team which had given up the fewest free-throw attempts during the regular season.
A Roseless Bulls in the Finals was a nightmare the NBA couldn’t want. It was also a team which had beaten the Heat twice without him already this season. Why wait until they get to the conference finals and the scrutiny was on?
The Boston Celtics were repeatedly taken out of the game with opportune technical being called, flops being called on one end but not the other or just uneven calling.
Meanwhile, the Spurs were steamrolling the Thunder to start things off. Then they started getting whistled for technical for things like looking at the other bench wrong.
While the Spurs are a team that is exciting, they aren’t thought of that way. They’re still thought of as a team that is the boring team of 2003 which drew a ratings nightmare. The NBA can’t have that.
Do you believe the NBA manipulated the results of the playoffs through the officaiting
The dots are there to be connected. The NBA wanted Miami and Oklahoma City in the Finals. They didn’t want some other team to ruin that. Whenever it looked like something “could” happen, the officiating (allegedly) nipped it in the bud.
For a league that has worked so hard to mold appearances, regardless of what the reality is, you’d think they would be a little more fearful of what’s going on here.
Whatever the reality is, NBA fans are now trained to go off of appearances, and the appearances are that Stern has had the call in for a Heat and Thunder finals. If they’re not careful, Paddy Power might be issuing more refunds soon.
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