(By Joe Kukura)
The National Basketball Association hopes you are enjoying the Lakers-Celtics NBA Finals… and hopes you are totally oblivious to what could be the Mother of All Sports Scandals – namely, the allegations that NBA referees have been fixing the games to favor certain stars and to make playoff series last the maximum number of games. There’s one referee under indictment, and he’s singing like an Ed Jew fan at a Board of Supervisors meeting, naming other referees and insisting that the league has been in on the fix all along.
Disgraced referee Tim “It’s Pronounced Donna-Phee!!!” Donaghy, nailed by the FBI for gambling on the games he officiated, testifies in court papers that NBA referees were instructed to manipulate games to “boost ticket sales and television ratings.” He offers specific allegations that in hindsight seem so disturbingly legit they give us Ouija Board goosebumps, particularly in regards to a certain 2002 Lakers-Kings Western Conference Finals. (Even Ralph Nader complained, remember that?) When we strain our drug-addled brains, we actually do remember a NorCal/SoCal series with a Game Six that was extremely fishy…. If we’re remembering wrong, then go ahead and flay us in the comments. But the momentum swing of that game did seem weird at the time.
Granted, the guy’s a convicted felon, looking at 25 years in the clink, and desperately wants to minimize that sentence because he probably still owes gambling money to his potential future cellmates. But doesn’t it make you wonder when your lower-revenue tier hometown team wins 48 games and still misses the playoffs? And hasn’t the NBA always seemed particularly bad about giving calls to the home team and/or the favored team? And if you can’t trust an admitted felon with an elaborate gambling and mafia history, then who can you trust?