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3 Reasons NBA Conspiracy Theorists Need to Have a Seat



Let’s be honest with each other, we have no idea what will happen in Game 6 of the Finals tonight. The gasbags on ESPN and your local sports radio station have all given their guesses, but all we know is Danny Green will continue to be Jesus Christ of the three-point line and Shane Battier will flop like a fish on land. Will LeBron return to his normal efficiency? Will Dwyane Wade be the guy from the first few games, or the last two? Can Manu Ginobili continue to play well?

We don’t know.


And perhaps that “not knowing” is what has given a voice to a growing minority among NBA fans: the Conspiracy Theorists. This isn’t a new phenomenon in the NBA. People have, for whatever reason, accused basketball of fixing outcomes more than any other major sport in this country. The Tim Donaghy scandal emboldened those who had assumed the worst about the NBA. Donaghy, an NBA referee at the time, admitted to influencing games to benefit gamblers. He also detailed how the league would assign referees based on their tendencies with the hope of giving a certain team an edge.

Although Donaghy was (by all formal accounts) found to be acting on his own, the rumblings of the Conspiracy Theorists have only grown louder. These Finals are no exception.

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Every rational fan knows that the NBA, like every other league, has outcomes they’d prefer. Some results are better for ratings/ticket sales/sponsorships/money than others. But there’s no way David Stern is fixing the outcome to the Finals according to a script like Vince McMahon of the WWE. Here are three reasons why:

Which owner is signing up to lose? –

Unlike an actual scripted “sport” like pro wrestling, the loser of the Finals has real consequences. Missing out on the chance to hang a banner isn’t the same as giving up a fictitious championship belt. Winning a championship means higher ticket prices, increased sponsorship and local TV revenue, and the other benefits associated with the notoriety of a championship. In other words, serious money directly to the bottom line of the owner. Who is giving that up to benefit David Stern?

For Miami, there’s an even bigger risk. The avalanche of criticism from The Decision and The Pep Rally will start all over again; this time with extra venom from those who wanted this experiment to fail from the beginning. Plus, another season without a championship means any one of Chris Bosh, James, or Wade could be closer to leaving. Again, why would owner Micky Arison agree to take part in this?

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The players definitely aren’t going along with a fix. –

The financial benefits of winning a championship are magnetized for the players (who aren’t billionaires). Is there any way Jason Terry of the Boston Celtics gets a $15 million contract without his great play leading to a Finals win? Hell no.

Superstars like James, Wade, Tony Parker, and Tim Duncan are going to make max (or near max) salaries regardless. But Mario Chalmers? He stands to gain a lot of money if he wins another ring. Even if there was a fix, he has no incentive to take part if the script doesn’t have Miami winning at the end. The same goes for a player like Gary Neal on the Spurs.

I know, you think they are paying off the referees. –

No.Stern Proof

First of all, in the wake of the Donaghy scandal, the league, I’m sure, has no interest in even the appearance of impropriety with its officials. Inviting this risk by telling refs who to “allow” to win is ridiculous, and there’s no guarantee they’d even get it right. Basketball played at this level is difficult. Good shots are hard to come by, and open shots aren’t guaranteed to go in (unless Danny Green is shooting them, I know). Isn’t it much more likely that scheme adjustments and luck are responsible for the outcome of these games, not the refs?

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Second, fans of the Spurs and Heat feel like the refs are screwing them. That usually means they are doing a fine job. As a relatively neutral observer, I find generally the same. Even some of the close calls turned out to be correctly judged after looking at replays. Plus, all but one of the games in this series was decided by double digit margins. A couple of calls either way won’t swing the outcome that much. Considering none of the stars in the series have faced serious foul trouble, I don’t think the refs are on the take.–

A good conspiracy theory intrigues me as much as anyone. But it has to be a good theory. The Finals are playing out as they should. Whether the Spurs clinch it tonight or there is a deciding Game 7 on Thursday, rest assured that the NBA had no say in the outcome.

What do you think, SBM Sports Fans? Have I appealed to your logical side? Is David Stern in his office pulling the strings on this series? If so, who’s going to win the series, and why?

Enlighten me in the comments below!


  1. LOLOLOL! Damn i have to say i was waiting for your article after the 2 games we had last week… And i'm very disapointed you even aknowledged these conspiracy theorists…
    Yall enjoy game 6 people!
    (Miami fans, are yall ok? krkrkrkrkrk)

    1. I HAD to, lol. The groundswell got so loud on Twitter I had to address it. Plus, who the hell knows what’s going to happen tonight? Either team could win by 30 or there could be quadruple overtime. I won’t be shocked, lol. I’ll leave the guessing to the TV guys and tease those who think the outcome is predetermined.

      1. I just want Miami to win, because i won't be able to watch the game tonight :O!
        The bball fan that i am needs a game 7 :O… Who do i have to pay?! LOL!

        1. Hahaha, make the check out to "Joe Sargent" and send it my way. I'll make sure to get it to Game 7.

          No refunds.

        2. @MaggK

          When I was rooting for Indiana, the Basketball GODS knew better and Miami prevailed

          I picked the Spurs in 6. But it is good for everyone that we see a Winner-Take-All Game 7!

          And Joe Sargent’s account is a black hole. You will never see your money again! Lol

  2. I think everybody wins if the series goes to a Game 7– more time to pump stats, more publicity, more ads, etc.

    I don't think anybody is picking who wins the series or individual games… But I do feel like subconsciously everybody wants it to last a little while. And maybe thats the difference between busting your butt to make a comeback with 2 minutes left, and letting it ride out to tie the series up and trying to win the next game.

    So… maybe its like an semi-conspiracy.

    1. I have to co-sign with the above. I don' t think the nba wants a particular team to win, but they do want to extend the series to more games. More games equal more revenue which we all know, "money talks and bs walks."

    1. Don’t get too upset. Your team has 2 home games to win for back-to-back titles. That’s why you push for home court advantage. Heat are favored by 7 tonight, so you at least have Vegas on your side.

      Unless you’re saying my post is BS, in which case I hope the Spurs win by 50, lol.

  3. Its simply too hard to “fake” a basketball game, draft lotteries, free agent tampering, maybe but what happens for 48 minutes on the hardwood cannot be scripted. Stern wants whats most profitable, so is he crossing his fingers for Celts/Lakers or Heat/Thunder…perhaps, does he want it bad enough to violate anti trust laws, go to prison and destroy the league entirely, i doubt it.

    1. This.

      If there was a grand conspiracy by now, we'd know it. Think of the hundreds of people who'd have to keep that a secret.

  4. wouldnt say that, nba players are employees and like employees they want to do their job and go the hell home. LeBron is in his 3rd consecutive year playing into mid june, not to mention an olympics, he would sweep the spurs if he was actually able to. Popovich is notorious for pacing his team simply because he knows his team, he would go all in for a sweep if he was able to.

    1. I assume this is in response to 12 Point Buck. I agree. The players and coaches care little about the extra money from a longer series. If for no other reason than their legacies’ sake, I think they would prefer to go 16-0 thru the playoffs.

  5. This almost makes too much sense. There is very little the NBA has to gain by "fixing" the Finals. The ad revenue for the Finals was collected months ago, before the teams advanced to the Finals. The league doesn't care who wins or loses. Either way its a compelling story that is easy to sell. The league does benefit from a series going longer than 5 games. The ad money from the last two games is above what they already collected. But honestly the entities around the NBA, like the networks and blog sites benefit far more from the traffic created by morons who believe in conspiracy theories than they would from actually fixing a game.

  6. Add to the list: Why the #$% would the NBA cheat for SAN ANTONIO, the small market team everyone says is so boring, to make the Finals (not to mention a West Finals with Memphis)? The both of Los Angeles' teams (2nd largest market) lost in the first round. New York (largest market) didn't make it to the East Finals, but the Pacers of Indianapolis did? Where's the incentive?

  7. No conspiracy.

    I think the Heat are being out-coached (and out-played on the whole – team wise, not just two great players). So I think the Spurs have an unfair advantage. If the refs call two techs on Popovich tonight, THEN I'll believe in conspiracies lol

    1. I think both coaches are making good adjustments game to game (hence no team winning two games in a row and the lopsided scoring). Pop is the better coach, but Spoelstra is doing a good job overall.

      I'm hoping for a close game tonight….or better yet a close game 7 (if necessary) lol

  8. Co-sign with Hugh above…Colin Cowherd often makes the exact same points. Why would the league want small markets such as OKC, San Antonio and Indiana to flourish and let the Clippers and Knicks languish in purgatory for the better of the 2000s? Makes no sense.

    1. @Larry

      I have been listening to Colin Cowherd since my college days (2006)

      Excellent. Disney is holding him back.

  9. If there is something worth having. It is worth stealing.

    I don’t see the incentive here to cheat. And if there was cheating involved this year, there is too much plausible deniability to make a solid case.

    You would need video recorded evidence. Because the eye-witness dude who snitches might end up at the bottom of a lake. Too much money involved.


    I feel like the Heat should have won this series in 6. When they lose, that 27 game win streak looks hollow. Obviously, Coach Spo is great, but LeBron needs a legendary coach like Pop or Phil.

    I predicted it would go Spurs in 6, but they did not win game 4, so I am bummed.

    I need Manu to score 50 in both games, and I can gloat!

    Game 6 is good for my social life.

    Game 7 is good for all of us!

    Good day.

  10. I need this series to end tonight since I'll be working on Thursday. My boss might be upset with me if I take a sick day to watch game 7.

      1. No doubt Ray "making'em pay allen" was clutch at the end, but James seems like he is averaging triple doubles. "Where they do that at son"??

  11. Those of you who don’t think the fix is in is living in a world of DENIAL.

    The fix is in and Emperor Palpatine will do whatever he can to make sure THE NUMBER 1MOST HATED NBA TEAM OF ALL TIME, WITH THE MOST HATED ATHLETE, gets the trophy.

    When this whole scandal breaks out, it will make the Black Sox Scandal look pedestrian.

  12. Okay first off why wouldn't it be a fix? if you took a poll secret or not on what NBA players prefer a career of wealth or winning a ring or two I guarantee at least 3/4 would choose the former. Unfortunately money is what makes this world go around. Lebron James is the face of the league, the cash cow so to speak. Don't believe me?? The fact he had to go on national TV and have a 1 hour special just to announce where he was going as a free agent 3 summers ago speaks for itself. He was annointed "king James" before he was drafted, not only that ESPN.com used to actually give recaps and box scores of his high school games, I saw that personally. In the end ratings=money=more revenue for ALL owners. Like last year when the celtics were up on Miami 3-2 with game 6 in the Garden. Everyone knew Miami wasn't losing. Stern wanted an OKC v Miami match up last year and the only reason he didn't get it this year is because of Russel Westbrook's achilles. Barring human element (injuries, opposing team shoots exceptionally well etc.) Miami wasn't losing to anyone. You mean to tell me a team with the playoff pedigree of San Antonio would be up by 5 with under 30 seconds to play and blow it in game 6? C'mon everyone knows the NBA wanted a game 7, there was no way Miami was going to lose that series and especially in six games. In addition Joey Crawford who doesn't like the sprs and can't stand Duncan was one of the refs for game six. And please don't tell me bosh didn't foul green on that last second block. I can understand letting ticky tack fouls go but that was blatant. The NBA like the WWF/E needs that 'bad guy'. And that's what the Miami heat are/were. The incessant flopping, wining to the refs, getting most of the whistles, it's as plain as day.
    My recent post Such A Shame. Thought You Were Fly, But You’re So Lame


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