The Sports Guy’s long-held theory about the league’s meddling in the NBA Playoffs are supported by Tim Donaghy’s testimony:
NBA referees, influenced by cozy relationships with league officials, rigged a 2002 playoff series to force it to a revenue-boosting seven games, a former referee at the center of a gambling scandal alleged on Tuesday. Without identifying anyone or naming teams, Tim Donaghy also claimed the NBA routinely encouraged refs to ring up bogus fouls to manipulate results but discouraged them from calling technical fouls on star players to keep them in games and protect ticket sales and television ratings.
I don’t think this comes as any surprise, given how Simmons was often able to predict which referees the NBA would assign to critical games depending upon who they wanted to win. It’s rather like point-shaving; all that’s necessary is to tilt the scale a little bit. It’s not likely to be an accident when you can accurately predict which team is going to be getting the major benefit of the calls before the game even tips off.
Notice the non-denial by the NBA official where he talks about Donaghy being the only one who committed criminal activity. But that’s not what’s being alleged, there’s nothing criminal about the league arranging the game results to its liking.
UPDATE – The Sports Guy comments on Game 3:
The Lakers took care of business at home in a must-win situation, which was something any quality team would do. Bennett Salvatore and Joey Crawford were about as impartial as Aaron Spelling when “90210” was casting the Donna Martin character in 1990, which was what you’d expect from “reliable” referees.