To everyone out there who has ever accused David Stern, his referees and the television networks of predetermining playoff winners, please speak up now.
You have some explaining to do.
Like how did Stern and his refs allow the Lakers to get swept in the second round?
Did Dallas suddenly become a bigger television market than Los Angeles?
And anyway don't you conspiracy theorists always say that the NBA and the networks tell the referees to extend a series with a marquee team to at least six or seven games?
Or were the Lakers supposed to win games one and three? Did Stern and the refs set up Kobe's last shot in game one assuming he would make it?
Or is the plan to "let" Memphis into the finals as a sentimental favorite -- with all the hardships of all that flooding.
(If so, they sure as heck could have given New Orleans a little Finals love back in 2006 -- or 2007 when the Hornets could actually play out their season in The Big Easy).
The Lakers could have used a little help from the guys in stripes against Dallas last week, but it didn't seem like they were getting any (it never seems that way when you are being outplayed four straight games).
So what changed this year with the NBA and its referees and the television networks that broadcast the games?
The Lakers deserved to get swept and Laker haters can clown them till they win their next championship -- however long that takes -- but the Lakers also earned the back-to-back titles of the past two years, just as Boston and San Antonio deserved the two before them.
Basketball conspirists are a formidable group. They even include one of my all-time heroes, Ralph Nader, the man who saved millions of lives fighting for automobile safety. I once voted for the guy for president -- and yet, after the Sacramento Kings lost in the 2002 Western Conference Finals, he publicly called out David Stern and gave voice to the idea of an "NBA-NBC" collusion -- though he did manage to distance himself from the conspiracy theory as he was promoting it and, to be fair, there were some pretty questionable calls at the end of game six. Still, my question for Ralph and every other basketball conspiracist is this: Why are you watching if you don't think it's real?
Granted, pro wrestling remains popular despite the obvious staging behind it. But sometimes I suspect that many people who believe basketball is fixed believe that WWE and Raw is not.
So what now - now that there will be no ratings-bonanza Lakers-Celtics rematch? Nor a Lakers-Heat Kobe/Labron matchup.
What will the NBA do?
It will keep doing what it always has -- keep the games going until the two best teams meet in the finals and the first team to win four will be the champions. They won't miss the Lakers or anyone else who fails to rise to the occasion.
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