Ref Conspiracy Theories Now Free to Run Wild

Big game, must-win for the Lakers, Kobe and the bench made up for the invisible Gasol and Odom (more on that later), but hey, did you hear that the whole NBA is fixed? ↵
↵
↵The Daily News got a hold of a court document in which Tim Donaghy alleges that, in a 2002 playoff series: ↵
↵⇥The referees allegedly ignored flagrant fouls committed by the team that needed to win. They also reportedly called "made-up fouls" against the other team which led to the ejection of two of their players. The team favored by the refs won that night and the next game to win the series ... Donaghy also claimed a supervising referee told refs that an unidentified NBA executive did not want them to call technical fouls on star players or boot them from the game. ↵
↵No teams specified, but anyone with half a memory thinks this could refer to the 2002 Western Conference finals, in which all sorts of calamities befell the Kings and everything went LA's way. ↵
↵
↵The problem with Donaghy's claims, in addition to the fact that his word is all he's offering, is that we're now in classic conspiracy territory. Slippery slopes for days. How exactly do we know where to draw the line in what we believe? As soon as you accept the basic premise, anything becomes possible. Stars get preferential treatment; there are all sorts of reasonable arguments for why this would be the case. But once you have refs deliberately handing them an advantage, why would it stop at non-calls? Why not calls against the other team, shady meetings before the game, and even a direct line to the Commissioner? ↵
↵
↵There's just no way of knowing how far it would — or could — go. But once you call officiating and league intentions into question, there's no way to turn the imagination off. And at some point, the whole thing starts to seem absurd, it's hard to take even square one seriously, and, like UFO cover-ups and the CIA killing Kennedy, those stuck on the matter come off as irrational. That's what happened with Donaghy the first time around, and it'll happen again now.↵

This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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