NBA has a conspiracy problem
Whether it's officiating some feel continually allowed the Spurs to knock their team out of the playoffs, suspensions that many think cost them a shot at a title, or a draft lottery system that has never -- and I mean never -- gone Phoenix's way, many on Planet Orange hold true to the notion that what Commissioner Stern wants, Commissioner Stern gets. And unfortunately for the Valley, he never seems to want good things to happen for the Suns.
Amazingly, there are many around the country who feel the same way about Stern and their teams, and the idea came to the forefront Wednesday night when the league-run Hornets won the NBA's Draft Lottery, securing a chance to draft Kentucky game-changer Anthony Davis.
Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski wrote an excellent-yet-disturbing article following about the subject, quoting team officials in the process. Most worrisome:
"I bet I could get my owner to tank if I knew the chance of getting the No. 1 pick was 100 percent," an NBA team president said in an email.
Well, maybe not the Suns, who we know want absolutely nothing to do with tanking, but that's not the point. Most fans would suffer through a horrible season if it meant a franchise player would be coming their way the following summer, though the caveat against the practice is the fact that there is no guarantee the top pick will be heading your way.
The Hornets were a bad team this year -- bad enough to land the top pick. They had the third-worst record in basketball and thus good odds to end up picking first. And like the "birthers" who steadfastly maintain President Obama was not born in the U.S., there is no way the Hornets could have won the lottery -- legit or otherwise - - that would have satisfied the conspiracy theorists.
From the Wojnarowski piece:
The reaction of several league executives was part disgust, part resignation on Wednesday night. So many had predicted this happening, so many suspected that somehow, someway, the Hornets would walk away with Davis.
Our very own Vince Marotta predicted it, tweeting out that his pick to win was the Hornets as "a thank you to Tom Benson for taking the team off the league's hands."
If the lottery was indeed rigged, it likely wouldn't be the first time. The Knicks won in 1985, allowing them to draft Patrick Ewing, the Orlando Magic won in 1993 (giving them back-to-back top picks), the Bulls have won twice (including when they had a 1.7 percent chance to do so in 2008), LeBron James managed to stay put in Ohio and the Grizzlies, oh those poor Grizzlies, have consistently finished second.
Always the bridesmaid, never the bride. And, apparently, never a team Stern has cared too much about.
Is something sinister amiss?
If perception is reality the NBA has a big problem on its hands. If its own employees and fans believe there is something shady happening, things can and will go south in a hurry. The "fixers" may be the minority, but they're vocal and easy to side with.
However, that does not mean the lottery is rigged or the NBA, as a whole, is fixed. One would not be able to prove it was anyway, because as any reasonable person knows, it's pretty tough to prove a negative.
That's not to say everyone is trying.
CBSSports.com basketball writer Matt Moore writes that the lottery is not rigged.
"There is a ton to not like about the NBA, a lot of instances where the league manipulates conditions to be favorable toward what they want. But this? This is like the X-Files, if the X-Files were stupid and badly conceived, then completely overdramatic."
Is the truth out there? Yes.
But it's up to the NBA to find a way to get it out in the public, because what they're doing now clearly isn't working.