Bucks Diary

Saturday, July 21, 2007

A sort of nuclear winter threatens the NBA

One man's incomprehensible stupidity has put a lot of other men's livelihoods in jeopardy. If alleged facts are proven true in the Tim Donaghy/FBI gambling investigation, it could do to the legitimacy of the NBA and professional basketball what the establishment of a grassy knoll shooter would do to the legitimacy of the Warren Commission Report. Destroy it.

How could this referee be so reckless? Didn't he understand what he was, pardon the pun, gambling with? The legitimacy of the sport, that's what. And how could the Association be so careless? For God's sakes, why didn't Association security forces discover this rouge official long before the FBI did? And how did a guy with such a deficient personality and warped sense of judgment be chosen for the ultimate on-court decisonmaking role in the first place?

This is bad on so many levels. Understand that it is not just your run of the mill gambling mess. Its much more than that because of who it involves and what it might imply. There is a long held belief among a not insignificant and very virulent band of sports conspiracy nuts that the NBA is fixed. And the Kingpins of this conspiratorial theory have always been the one group of people who were best positioned to deliver the fix: NBA officials. I'm not quite sure why the NBA is so readily accused of being a fixed operation when other sports have had their own gambling issues (baseball, football), but it is. You would be surprised at how many otherwise sane people actually believe the Association head office decides who will win playoff games, and that the referees then implement these edicts from on high. The theory is illogical to the core, but it exists. And that means trouble is about to hit hard.

This Donaghy fiasco plays right into those conspiratorial beliefs, and gives them the kind of superficial credibility that helps turn a nutty belief held by a small disturbed faction into a commonly held and potentially disastrous ideavirus that could take down the entire sport.

That's why the hour of truth has arrived for David Stern's commissionership. He has to act quickly, decisively, and with the coldblooded ruthlessness of Josef Stalin if he is to remove this taint from the game. Nothing short of a purge will suffice. The competitive legitimacy of the sport, which is its lifeblood, is at stake.


At July 22, 2007 at 9:28 AM, Anonymous paulpressey25 said...

I'm up on the grassy knoll. And it is crowded up here.

Unlike other professional sports,the NBA 25-30 years ago adopted the star system. That means that stars get the calls.

It means that two of the most physical players in league history (Moses Malone and Shaq) go years without fouling out of games. Meanwhile, if Dan Gadzuric looks the wrong way at Tim Duncan, it's a foul.

It means that Julius Erving gets to hammer Marques Johnson and get a steal with no foul called at the end of a critical playoff game.

We don't have this problem in other sports. Not in college basketball. Not in pro football. Brett Favre doesn't get a pass interference call on every ball he throws that isn't caught by the receiver.

This has tainted the NBA for years. Everyone knows it. There has never been a level playing field.

The crows have come home to roast on David Stern. Time for him to deal with it.

Fire all the refs. Get new ones. End the star system. The amazing thing is that the league will prosper. Dwayne Wade will still sell millions of jerseys without being sent to the foul line 25 times in a Finals game.

At July 22, 2007 at 1:26 PM, Blogger Treego said...

I cannot say it any better than paulpressey25 just did! paulpressey25 is right on! The NBA needed a wake-up call in this area.

At July 22, 2007 at 10:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bill Simmons said it better than both of you. Maybe you should check out his article at Espen.com. Or not, whatever. I'm going to go shave my hair like Bogut.

At July 23, 2007 at 1:57 AM, Blogger Treego said...

Is this the URL you are talking about? http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/070722


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