Is the NBA Rigged?
There has long been a question of whether games are rigged in the NBA. This has led to questions about the league’s integrity and whether the games are genuinely fair. The NBA has always been accused of rigging games. However, this hasn’t stopped conspiracy theorists from speculating about what may or may not be happening behind closed doors.
While many people believe that the NBA is corrupt, there is no evidence to support this claim. Every time a player makes a fantastic shot, doesn’t hit the rim at all, or otherwise performs unexpectedly, doesn’t mean that they were given an unfair advantage by referees who want them to win their game; it means they’re just good at basketball.
Have There Been Investigations Into NBA Fixing Allegations?
There have been investigations into alleged fixing in NBA games, though no concrete evidence of wrongdoing has surfaced to date.
New Jersey Senator Richard Codey conducted the most notable investigation. In 2007, Senator Codey asked the FBI to investigate allegations made by referee Tim Donaghy that some of his fellow referees had fixed at least one playoff game in 2002.
There have also been investigations of games by the league itself. In 2018, an NBA investigation found no wrongdoing surrounding a game played between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Houston Rockets. The investigation was launched after bets placed on the game caused a Las Vegas casino to hold off on paying out winnings.
Various Theories That Indicate The NBA Is Rigged
There are logical explanations for seemingly random events, but they aren’t evidence of any grand conspiracy. Let’s look at some common arguments and why people would think the NBA is rigged.
Before the 2011-12 NBA season, Chris Paul was traded from the New Orleans Hornets to the Los Angeles Lakers. But the deal fell through when commissioner David Stern prevented it from going through.
This trade was an attempt for the Lakers to save face after losing out on signing free agent point guard Deron Williams during the offseason. The trade would have sent Paul to Los Angeles alongside Lamar Odom in exchange for Pau Gasol and two first-round picks.
The trade was expected to be approved by all parties. Including the NBA’s Board of Governors, who had the final say over Hornets trades since they were under league ownership at the time. However, Stern stepped in and vetoed the deal. He cited that it was “not in the best interests of the NBA.”
This led to public outcry from fans and media members, as well as, a statement from Paul’s agent that his client intended to opt-out of his contract at season’s end and leave New Orleans as a free agent. The controversy also led to an investigation by former attorney general David Boies into whether or not Stern acted in bad faith when he vetoed this specific trade.
Draft Lotteries – Patrick Ewing
The NBA draft in 1985, which saw Patrick Ewing drafted by the New York Knicks. Resulted in a controversy due to accusations of a rigged lottery. The league has refused to comment on the allegations.
The NBA draft was held in June, 1985. In this draft, Patrick Ewing was selected as the first overall pick by the New York Knicks. This infuriated the fans of other teams because it allowed the Knicks to acquire one of the best players in college basketball at that point in time.
This event is most notable for being shrouded in controversy and accusations of a rigged lottery system. Many people are convinced that the NBA had already decided to give Ewing to the Knicks even before the lottery started.
Michael Jordan Retirement
Michael Jordan was one of the greatest basketball players ever to grace the court. But he also had a reputation for being a gambling addict. We were curious if Michael Jordan was suspended from basketball because of his gambling problems or retired voluntarily.
After some digging, we found out that Jordan was never fundamentally banned from playing professional basketball due to his gambling. He did retire and then returned in 2001, but this was voluntary.
Jordan’s gambling did cause him to lose endorsements and fines. They ultimately did not hold him back from playing professionally. His first retirement in 1993 was due to his father’s death and the pressure of competing in the NBA at such a high level. In 1995 he returned and began playing again for the Bulls for two seasons before retiring again in 1998.
His second retirement was due to exhaustion and his desire to pursue other interests, including baseball. He returned in 2001 for two seasons before retiring permanently in 2003 at the age of 40.
Are NBA referees making mistakes, or are they fixing games? During the past few years, there have been many allegations. From the infamous Tim Donaghy scandal to a recent survey in which almost one-third of NBA players admitted to believing that refs are fixing games.
Upon closer examination, it seems these allegations may not be without merit. In an interview after the 2017 NBA Draft, new player Lauri Markkanen admitted he was “shocked” at how games were officiated. Said he was thinking about taking up golf instead of basketball because it seemed like the rules were easier to follow. It’s clear we will see a lot more putts and birdies this season if something doesn’t change.
Referees might argue their mistakes are honest ones, but even a quick look at some data suggests something’s fishy. Of all referees who call more than ten fouls per game, only three have called more than five technical fouls for excessive complaining this season.
The bottom line is every conspiracy theorist will watch a complete game. Every call will seem suspicious, but it’s not that simple. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all fix because basketball is such a varied game, with varying play styles across teams and players. Some games are more predictable than others. The truth is no matter how many layers you peel back at the core of this issue, you won’t find the fix you’re looking for.
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