Some said 'oh well' and some cried conspiracy. Now I'm not one to say that it was a complete conspiracy, that the calls made by the refs were totally arbitrary and meant to design a more profitable playoffs match up by forcing the Jazz out by technical fouls and free throws. But I appreciate the healing nature of being able to assuage your anger and pain by cursing those damn refs, and promising violence to them if you ever saw one on the street.
Which is why I was taken aback when Trib sports columnist Gordon Monson quickly decided to harangue Jazz conspiracy theorists in a May 16 article (I'd provide a link, but its archived now which means they'd make you pay to read it) writing:
"To all the Jazz fans who are crying . . . and crying . . . and crying about the refereeing in the Jazz-Lakers playoff series, how about this idea: Give it a rest. It's old and it's tired and it's predictable and it's embarrassing and it's unfounded. Drop the persecution complex."
Then came Donaghy. Donaghy who is being tried for gambling charges, made a plea to get his sentence lowered by revealing that indeed referees had been persuaded to make calls to influence key games as a measure of boosting ticket sales and TV ratings, Donaghy pointed out the extension of the 2002 Western Conference between the Lakers and the Kings as proof.
Now, admittedly, this still is likely to be just a desperate attempt at shortening his sentence. Most likely...but the bigger point it illustrates is that you know sure, Monson made a good point that everybody always cries conspiracy when their preferred team loses. The problem I have is where Monson says that if there would have been a conspiracy it would have come out by now.
Here's the thing: Maybe this is the beginning of an expose and maybe it's not, but even if it's not, is it really so hard to believe that some kind of game manipulation is going on?
We live in an era where industry regulation doesn't mean much. When you have a former pony judge put in charge of FEMA during our nation's worst ever natural disaster or when you have a corporate shill put in charge of mine safety regulation prior to Crandall Canyon, is it really so hard to believe that a franchise as profitable as the NBA wouldn't be up to a few shenanigans every now and then?
First off, people get pissed by ref's calls, but do they get pissed off enough to form a watchdog group, or petition legislators to look at these things?
No, if refs rig games, the result may be millions of pissed off fans, but it doesn't mean people die or get maimed. If anyone loses out on it besides the fans it's probably just the players and economically speaking, these are probably not some of the most vulnerable or at risk people in our country. So why would serious regulation exist for the NBA when we can't even get competent people regulating industries where people are actually dying because of corporate greed?
Most people in the NBA are denying Donaghy's claims including Sloan and the Jazz, but really, is it that much of a stretch to imagine? (Eric S. Peterson)