Thursday, June 12, 2008

Is RefereeGate Upon Us?

[Sports] It was just about last month, when the Lakers did in the Jazz in the playoff series and our fair state hunched it's hopeful shoulders in despair.
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)


  1. Thisis all bull..You have to be stupid not to thing that ref's are not manipulating the games. Just take a look at Jazz vs Lakers series! Its like communism. You get punished if you say anyting agains refs or David Stern, the biggest mafioso off all. Didn't he just say he wants to have Boston vs Lakes finals. Come on, give me a break!

  2. I don't know if I fully believe Donnaghy, because he picked two of the most obvious examples of manipulation: One where Jeff Van Gundy indicated as much, and a game that anyone who watched it can't forget that the Lakers shot 27 free throws in ONE QUARTER!

    Add that the Jazz lost 4 games to the lakers where they were out-shot at the FT Line 169-99, and it adds up to reasonable doubt of the league's fairness in referee instructions at worst, and at best, points to low quality of officiating in the NBA.

    I propose the NBA create an entity independent of the league by simply funding something like an endowed chair at a University. However, in this case, the endowed school would simply train referees for the NBA. I dunno, it's more complicated than that, but it would restore confidence in the league's officiating fairness. What say you?

  3. Eric S. PetersonJune 12, 2008 at 3:48 PM

    To JeffJames, yeah it's a tough call, I think for the sake of the sport something out of a University endowment might help, but the biggest challenge I think is that I don't think people are motivated to reform something like this. Sports fans will bitch about ref calls around the water coolers at work but is anybody going to do anything about it? I'm doubtful. And for anonymous you knew that I was agreeing with your sentiment right? I couldn't tell if you were saying my post was bull or if the NBA was bull.--ESP

  4. Even if the command is not expressely stated the commish did say he wanted to see the Lakers and Celtics play. He is the refs boss! Are not favorable calls for certain teams at least implied when the Commissioner says things like that? But it is fun. Baseball survives because of drama like this, basketball needs the intrigue.

  5. I've been in denial for years that the NBA is rigged, but the last few years it has become increasingly obvious.

    Players rarely complain about painfully questionable calls, they all know it and for the sake of their own wallet they say nothing about it.

    Then there's Boston. Dominating home games by 30 and losing all their away games, like the audience plays that big a factor. Garnett throws up dumb shots all day on away games, but has home games where he plays like he's the most dominant player of all time.

    and maybe you noticed Phil Jackson pulling Kobe and Odom out of the 4th quarter for 5 minutes at a time to let home teams back into the game.

    If every series goes 7 games they make SOO much more money and the only way to do that is to have a 3rd team to make it less obvious. Go Refs!

  6. Does this not explain Super Bowl 42, which was also fixed?


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.