Briefly– it’s standard practice for the defenders of the NBA to laugh off anyone who thinks that the officiating is bad, to act as if any perceived bias is just crazy conspiracy theorizing, and that no one in their right minds could think such a thing. Well here I have been, watching a game in which the Denver Nuggets led practically wire to wire, only to have the game handed to the Lakers with laughably bad calls in the last couple minutes of the game. And let me tell you what all of my cognitive processes tell me: that this officiating was horrendous, and worse, it was bad in a way that consistently favored one team over another. What’s more, this comes in the context of a season of watching NBA basketball, in a lifetime of watching basketball, where the same team gets the same calls again and again and again. So what am I to think?
Here’s what I’m going to say: I don’t know why the NBA’s officiating is so bad, and I don’t know why it so consistently favors the LA Lakers. But I know that it’s bad, and I know it’s biased in favor of LA, because I watch the games, time and again, and time and again the same trends emerge. I’m not going to venture a guess as to how or why. Conspiracy theorizing, or whatever you want to call it, about the NBA fixing games is an attempt at explaining a phenonemon. I’m not out to explain it. I’m just out to assert that I have seen it again and again and I am tired of pretending that it isn’t real. And I know too many countless sports fans who have thrown up their hands and abandoned the NBA because they don’t think the game is fair, and for a sports league, the appearance of unfair competition is death. No, I don’t know why the officiating is so shitty, and I don’t know why it seems so consistently to benefit certain teams. I just know it happens, and I’m not going to continue to pretend that it doesn’t.