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NBA has a conspiracy problem

It’s tough to find a Suns fan who doesn’t think the NBA is
fixed in some way.

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.


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