On Tuesday’s edition of “the well-listened to Dan Patrick Show,” disgraced former NBA referee Tim Donaghy called in to discuss the NBA Playoffs and sell some books. He cited examples of plays in the fourth game of the Orlando-Boston series that pointed to referees’ exertion of undue influence to thwart the potential sweep. He also spoke of the huge free throw disparity in Phoenix during Game 3 that put the series at 2-1.
“You can see the frustration on Phil Jackson’s face because he knows what’s happening.”
When asked point blank if Phoenix would win Game 4, Donaghy responded with this: “I’m not saying it’s a definite thing, but they’ll get the benefit of the calls.”
“It’s obvious how the referees are trained and programmed to put the teams that are down in the series at an advantage.”
Sigh. The home team got aggressive and drove the ball to the hoop. They didn’t settle for jumpshots and tried to force the action against the wounded Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol. They did the same thing on Tuesday night. Bynum scored 12 points with eight rebounds, while Gasol added 15 points and five boards.
Look at the difference in the Los Angeles offense. They shot 33 three-point shots combined in games 1 and 2. In the past two games in Phoenix, the Lakers chucked up 60 three-point shots (connecting on 30%). They out-shot the Suns marginally on Tuesday overall, but Phoenix amassed 19 more all-important foul shots (15 more makes).
You go into the box score and you also see another couple troubling notes for the Lakers. The Lakers were -16 with Bynum on the court and -21 in Shannon Brown’s 13:38 of action. Brutal.
Donaghy claims that he was told to manipulate games and in pre-game meetings, told what to call and what to look for in games. He did clarify those statements to explain that he was never explicitly ordered to produce a specific outcome, although it had been implied.
He’s basically equating the NBA to soap operas and the WWE. You know it’s scripted. You get sucked into the drama, anyway. I guess Donaghy’s next book will have a chapter or two about the league’s partnership with TNT. “We know drama.” I want an investigation about the hours of “Law & Order” re-runs that I’m losing to NBA coverage, too.
Seriously, the whispers have always been there. The frozen envelope for the Knicks. The 2008 NBA Draft Lottery win by the Bulls … and countless other examples are cited. Fire up the telestrators and game film and we can find 1,000,000 uncalled traveling violations, big men camping in the lane for a week, palming, push-offs, “dirty” screens and touch fouls that altered substitution rotations and game flow.
I do appreciate that everyone remembers the lesson out of Woodward & Bernstein: “Follow the money.” I do.
Do I believe that the league would like to see Los Angeles and Boston battle again? There’s no question about it. With most of the stars still around from that historic rivalry (just find an online feed for an LA or Boston radio station), you’re likely to run into one of them.
I get the basic economic principles at play. More games equals more butts in seats, ad sales, marketing opportunities and so on …
Do I believe that David Stern is working an invisible hand to manipulate the outcomes of games? No chance. There’s enough human error in trying to keep up and call 48 minutes of activity with some of the greatest athletes in sports. There are enough bang-bang plays to force quick decisions. Superstars get calls. That’s the nature of sport.
– In baseball, hitters or pitchers get the call on the edges based on their histories. Just ask Boggs or Maddux.
– In football, established linemen rarely get called for a hold, even if they’re mauling the charging defender. Established receivers get to put to push-off a bit and rarely get an offensive PI call.
– I need only one word here. QUARTERBACKS
– The referee looks the other way when the manager throws a foreign object into the ring.
Wait. That last one isn’t helping my point.
“Follow the money.” A direct link back to Commissioner Stern sees that money walking over to another sport and his work toward global domination swirling down the drain.
Might Donaghy eventually be tagged as basketball’s Jose Canseco? You know what I mean. He’s a man with questionable motives looking to sell a tell-all book and generating controversy. Canseco’s allegations have proven true time and again. Will Donaghy’s? He predicted a Suns win in Game 4 and got his W. Predicting games on a national radio/tv show, as Mr. Patrick pointed out, seemed to be a dubious move, but Donaghy did it nonetheless. In this case, he’ll need more corroboration from other officials and executives or a paper trail or positive drug tests as were obtained in the Major League Baseball inquiries.
I have to ask this … if David Stern was operating things in the matter Donaghy suggested, why wouldn’t the calls have shifted in the Lakers’ direction in light of his radio appearance? Wouldn’t the Commissioner flip a double-bird in the air to Donaghy and call off the Code Red? Don’t tell me that the hotline didn’t ring in the Commissioner’s office once Donaghy’s segment began to air. He’s ever-vigilant about his brand.
Now, push that aside for a minute. I do have a bone to pick with the Commissioner’s office about collecting checks from owners and front office folks (Mark Cuban and Steve Kerr) while chiming in about his desired destination for King James. I’ll save that rant for tomorrow.