Ridiculous RS: vocals, guitar, bass; TomP: percussion & production
“Basketball, of all sports, is easiest to manipulate.” — Garth Woolsey, sports columnist for the Toronto Star
The NBA arguably sports the best athletes in the world.
Basketball is a deceptively simple game; one that looks easy, but in actuality is very difficult to play well.
Ambidextrous skills are required, and its speed & quickness are hard for non-players to truly judge & appreciate.
When played well, professional basketball is a beautiful TEAM game.
So why does the NBA, the best basketball league in the world, continue to have declining television viewership & fan attendance? It’s because the NBA is perceived by many basketball purists as being selfish, dirty, and a fixed league. Evidence for this thesis is best illustrated with video proof, provided below.
Former NBA referee Tim Donaghy became infamous in 2007, before reports of a FBI investigation into his betting on games he officiated during his final two seasons.
Donaghy was found guilty, and spent 11 months in prison for his actions.
He cooperated with the FBI, in exchange for a reduced sentence. In his testimony he described the nature of NBA officiating under commissioner David Stern, which is illustrated in this 60 Minutes interview and his book, Personal Foul: A First Person Account of the Scandal that Rocked the NBA.
Any whistleblower must be judged for their integrity, to be determined credible. As the scandal broke, Stern was asked by the media about Tim Donaghy’s rating as an official, his response was, “As a matter of on-court performance, he’s in the top tier of accuracy.” No evidence has ever been produced implicating Tim Donaghy for fixing any games he officiated, either for himself or the NBA.
The idea that a LEAGUE would fix its games, including its championship series, is unthinkable to many–yet it makes sense when sports are looked upon as a business, which is precisely what they are.
Professional sports are defined by the courts as entertainment, and the leagues including the NFL, MLB, NHL & NBA are legally allowed to fix their games, if they so choose.
Fixing games, in order to maximize fan interest & television ratings is simply smart business.
The most popular and marketable player in NBA history was undoubtedly Michael Jordan. After Larry Bird & Magic Johnson retired in the early 1990’s, Jordan became the centerpiece in David Stern’s strategy of marketing its biggest names. Preferential treatment from the refs had become the norm for star players, and Air Jordan became unguardable, in every sense of the term. The Chicago Bulls would win 6 championships from 1991-98, with very little resistance, as none of those NBA Finals went more than six games, in a best-of-seven format.
By the time of Michael Jordan’s second retirement, the NBA fell into a ratings crisis, from which they still haven’t recovered; the 2014 regular season & post-season ratings are half of what they were in 1998, Jordan’s final season with the Chicago Bulls.
The NBA from February 1, 1984 – January 31, 2014, was under the control of commissioner David Stern, a high-powered lawyer known for his dictatorial style. He inherited a league on the rise with Bird & Magic providing a natural rivalry in Boston & LA, and an influx of talent in the mid 1980’s that would become the heart of the 1992 Olympic Dream Team; likely the best basketball team ever assembled, even though it excluded all-time NBA greats Hakeem Olajuwan and Isiah Thomas.
As these legends faded & retired in the 1990’s, what largely replaced them wasn’t at that level of greatness & maturity. The next generation of NBA stars were often players who left college early, including: Shaquille O’Neal, Penny Hardaway, Vince Carter, and Jason Kidd; or in the cases of Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, and later LeBron James– jumped straight from high school to the NBA. These young players whom David Stern chose to elevate to superstar status, were often seen more for their selfish behaviour–on & off the court, than for their basketball skills.
Criticism of star players & the officiating in particular was always muted by Stern, who labelled it “corrosive.” The Director of Officiating and league officials office, which represents the NBA owners, were staffed with yes-men who would comply with Stern’s diktats. Ed T. Rush, Ronnie Nunn, Stu Jackson, and Rod Thorn were the mediocrities deputized to manipulate officiating and gag any criticism, with a system of financially punitive fines and suspensions-without-pay.
Players, coaches, team executives & owners were punitively fined for publicly questioning officiating. Referees are still not permitted to speak to the media unless the NBA approves it in advance. All this has led to a double standard in officiating, where star players & top-money teams benefit, in order generate fan ‘excitement’ & maximize revenue. This process, which began in the 1980’s, qualitatively changed in the 2000’s, where league championships & playoff series are now rigged to ensure marquee match-ups & prolonged series, in order to generate more revenue.
Two of the most infamous examples (there are many more) of the NBA manipulating championship outcomes are:
2002 Western Conference Finals: Lakers/Kings
This blatant officiating bias was clear to anyone watching at the time. Over a decade later, it is still pointed to by basketball fans as the most obvious fix in NBA history. Shaq & Kobe, along with head coach Phil Jackson and half of Hollywood in the crowd, were certainly the favorites of David Stern. The Sacramento Kings were clearly the best team in the 2001-02 NBA, and this entire series was a tragic farce. Anyone who claims this horrible officiating was an accident is either lying or hopelessly naive.
2006 NBA Finals: Heat/Mavericks
After Shaq was traded by the Lakers, he teamed with D-Wade in Miami to become the newest NBA dynamic duo and David Stern marketing darling.
Watch this critical final sequence at the end of pivotal Game 5 (series tied at 2-2, tie score), as Dwyane Wade commits a back-court violation on the in-bounds pass (not called), then drives and gets the phantom foul call to win the game at the free throw line.
This was a re-occurring scenario all series, and is one of the examples discussed in Donaghy’s book.
The prize of the inaugural 1985 NBA Draft Lottery was Patrick Ewing (C, Georgetown), and it was well understood that NBA commissioner David Stern wanted him in the biggest media market.
Stern is also a lifelong Knicks fan.
The NY Daily News reported the accounting firm of Ernst & Whinney, hired by the NBA to seal the envelopes, also audited the accounts of Gulf + Western.
Gulf + Western (renamed Paramount in 1989) owned the NY Knicks in 1985.
Watch this video and note the fourth envelope as it is tossed into the side of the drum, folding a corner.
It is this bent envelope which David Stern reaches for, uncreases with his left hand, and then announces as being the #1 pick.
Of course all this video evidence is circumstantial, as hard proof of manipulation as policy is impossible without an admission from higher-ups. Stern would say he’s not that good a magician; his opponents would point out that he is.
It is simply the consistency of this circumstantial evidence that leads so many to the conclusion, the NBA is fixed. The whistles & lottery winners favor large-market franchises & star players so overwhelmingly, that the chances of this being a coincidence are statistically reduced to nil. Decide for yourself.
Physical play is another feature of the NBA– No Bitches Allowed. Its de-evolution into downright dirty play, is a reflection of ruling-class values. The plutocracy that dominates our global political economy is the core ideology for all professional sports, and therefore rigged leagues with unequal rules and condoned violence are logical outcomes.
Some of the NBA’s biggest stars are allowed to be its dirtiest players, for instance watch what happens to those who try to defend Kobe Bryant:
Watch here as Dwyane Wade kicks his defender in the groin, cross-checks opponents going to the basket, and generally take offense to any player who attempts to guard him closely. All this earned him a one-game suspension, in total.
Bruce Bowen was probably the dirtiest player of this era, which is quite a statement. His speciality was walking under the jump shooter to have them land on his foot and roll their ankle, as shown time after time in this video:
How does the NBA not suspend for karate-kicking a jump-shooter in the face?
Bruce Bowen had his 500 consecutive games-played streak snapped in 2008, when he was suspended one game (the only suspension of his career) for kicking Chris Paul while down on the floor, shown here:
Unfortunately this is just a sample of what he was allowed to get away with, as his ‘lockdown defense’ helped the San Antonio Spurs win 3 NBA titles during his career.
In Personal Fouls, Tim Donaghy discusses the makeup of a typical NBA crowd, “It seems that night after night, arenas throughout the league are loaded with wisecracking, inebriated hecklers who are just itching for a fight.” Donaghy narrates what it was like to officiate one of the ugliest scenes in American sports history, the ‘Malice in the Palace,’ a full-scale brawl between the Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons, which spilled into the stands and then back onto the court, on November 19, 2004:
A progenitor of this sort of play was Bill Laimbeer, as Larry Bird discusses in this clip.
This cheap shot on Scottie Pippen is a fair example of the Detroit Pistons ‘Bad Boy’ style in the late 1980’s/early 1990’s, which really has no place in basketball:
Today the Pistons of this era are glorified, and what we now have in the NBA is less like real basketball, and more like UFC & WWE. The NBA has become largely unwatchable to many purist fans who value integrity and fair play. Any comparisons of players in this era to greats of the past becomes difficult, if not impossible, due to the distortions of the rules. When star players of today are allowed to travel and foul at both ends without being whistled, how does a fan compare them to earlier-era players?
The individual stats & championship ring totals of modern NBA superstars have too often been league-aided; achieved through rigged refereeing. Acknowledge the puppet-master, not the puppets. Basketball fans rightly feel the NBA has no legitimacy anymore, and the only solution at this point is to stop watching. Please join us.
My All-Time NBA Team
12 Players– listed in order
PG: Magic Johnson, Oscar Robertson
SG: Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant
SF: Larry Bird, LeBron James
PF: Karl Malone, Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan (4/5)
C: Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Hakeem Olajuwon
Inactive List (3 players maximum, all out with phantom injuries)
PG: Isiah Thomas
SF: Charles Barkley
PF: Dirk Nowitzki
A great coaching staff & front office is needed to handle these egos:
Favorite Player All-Time: PG Darrell Armstrong, #10 Orlando Magic– Heart & Hustle