After the Warriors’ Game 6 loss on Thursday night, Ayesha Curry took to Twitter to claim that the NBA was rigged for either money or ratings, receiving such a backlash that the Tweet was eventually removed.
But this isn’t the first time the NBA has been accused of being fixed. Fans have been screaming about suspect referees, star treatment, the Jordan Rules, home court advantage and the draft lottery for years, way before social media was around. Many feel that it started in 1985 with the inaugural NBA Draft Lottery, where the Knicks won the lottery and eventually selected Patrick Ewing from Georgetown. Fans screamed cheating, saying David Stern gave Dave Debusschere and the Knicks the pick so they could get Ewing.
In the 80s and early 90s, fans used to scream the NBA was “cheating” so that teams from major markets (LA and Boston specifically) would make the playoffs. Breathe too hard on Bird, it was a foul. The Lakers cheated every night. They even wrote a book about “The Jordan Rules”, a phrase originally coined by the Pistons in regards to how to defend the all mighty Michael Jordan. These were all part of the NBA fans’ bitter experience.
In all fairness, in 2007 we learned that some of that bitterness could have been true with the arrest of disgraced NBA referee Tim Donaghy, but other than that blatant example of corrupted ethics and absence of integrity, most of the bitterness has been unsubstantiated.
But after Game 6, Warriors’ fans, Ayesha Curry and even Donaghy, screamed the “cheater” chant again. Yes, some of the calls/no calls were horrendous, but cheating? That has yet to be determined.
But one person took to social media to shut the complaints down. ESPN’s Jemele Hill, always an honest and credible voice, took to Facebook to “mic drop” the cheating debate:
Memo to NBA fans: THE NBA IS NOT RIGGED. The NBA can’t “rig” the game to where LeBron has 41, Golden State has just 11 points in the first quarter, Andre Igoudala’s back tightens up, Harrison Barnes can’t hit anything and Tristan Thompson has a double double and essentially out-hustles all of the Warriors front line. MVPs don’t often foul out, especially not in the Finals. And a couple of those calls against Steph were bad. But he also didn’t help with a couple dumb ones that were his own doing. And by the way, NBA already has cashed the check from their broadcasting partners. Doesn’t matter if it’s a sweep or a 7-game series, ESPN and the league’s other partners have already given them their money for this season. Individual owners and cities make more money as the playoffs games continue, but that’s about it. If the league were “rigged,” you’d get a New York-LA Finals every year, we would have seen Kobe v LeBron in the Finals, or every Finals would be a 7-game series. I know this will be tough for some of you to do. But you might have to actually credit LeBron for putting his team in position to do something no other team has done when down 3-1 in the Finals.
With Game 7 tonight, we’re sure either Cavs or Warriors fans will be screaming the “cheating” chant during and after the game, but that’s only to be expected.