Duck! and Gather

David Stern and the Big Lie

Posted on: June 15, 2008

Top story in the NBA world over the last couple of days: the FBI has been asking former and current officials about NBA ref Dick Bavetta. They’re looking for evidence supporting the obvious: Dick has been fixing playoff games for the NBA for many years.

Today was Game 5 of the NBA finals. Guess who shows up to ref today’s game? Good old Dick Bavetta. Holy hudspa, David Stern.

Then would you be surprised to learn that Game 5 tonight came down to calls and non-calls of Mr. Bavetta and his fellow refs? Tight game in the fourth quarter. Touch foul on Kevin Garnett for his 5th. Touch foul on Paul Pierce for his 5th. Effect: backs off the Boston defense. (Interesting: The TV did not show replays of either of those fifth fouls to see whether they really were fouls; contrast Garnet’s 4th foul for which the replays clearly showed he had all ball. Think an order came from the league between the 4th and 5th fouls?)

Forty seconds to go, Boston down by two, Kobe whacks Paul Pierce from behind, does not touch ball, and scores a layup that basically decides the game (except that L.A. can’t seem to hit its free throws, making the last 40 seconds more interesting than they should have been after Dick’s fix job).

Check out this video:

Watch closely the segment between 0 and 5 seconds. Notice the speed at which Kobe’s arm comes into the picture, versus the speed at which the ball flies out of Pierce’s hand. Kobe’s hand moves very quickly, taking less than a second of the video. Yet the ball just dribbles out of Pierce’s hand and even bounces off the floor before Odom picks it up. Had Kobe hit the ball, instead of Pierce’s forearm and ribs, the ball would have flown out of Pierce’s hand very quickly and directly.

For comparison, there other wrap-around ball pokes in the game that weren’t called as fouls either. But in those cases, the ball flew out after the poke at a high velocity.

Note that you can’t even argue Kobe grazed the ball since it flies out of Pierce’s hand in the same direction that Kobe hand was moving. Since the ball flies out of Pierce’s hand in that same direction, but much slower, we can conclude Kobe didn’t hit the ball.

What do you think a ref can notice about a play that takes less than second? For one, he can notice sound. e.g. hand hitting ball versus hand hitting flesh and no ball. But that signal is not available in a loud arena. For another, he can notice exactly what I point out above — speed of hand versus speed of ball, plus direction of hand versus direction of ball.

One interesting thing about this game is that the TV announcers specifically didn’t mention anything about the quality of the reffing in the fourth quarter. i.e. good call versus bad call. Think the league and the network gave instructions to the announcers?

I guess they didn’t give the same instructions to the cameraman who kept focusing on Pierce’s face as the game wound down after that blatant non-call. Pierce’s expression was unambiguous: “The refs stole yet another one to extend the series and make the league some more money.”

Hitler’s minister of propaganda pointed out the distinction between the big lie and the small lie. Turns out the masses are much more likely to swallow the big lie than the small lie. Stern assigning Dick Bavetta to this game and having Dick Bavetta decide the outcome (which extends the series) is exactly what is being alleged Stern has been doing for years. The FBI is hot his trail. Yet Stern lies. He’s says: “We’re clean. Here, watch Dick ref. See? He’s clean.”

It’s a big lie. It was right out there for everyone to see tonight. That the announcers wouldn’t touch it makes the lie even bigger.

I’ll be surprised if any major media raises these points. But bloggers will.

Prelude to the People vs. Corporations struggle. Be ready for the Big Lies.

2 Responses to "David Stern and the Big Lie"

Okay, I’ll play a little more than devil’s advocate. I actually don’t agree with your take on the game, even though I found it interesting to read.

Perspective. First off, I don’t like LA and I am cheering for Boston.

When I saw that non-called foul with Kobe-Pierce at the end in real motion, it didn’t look like a foul at first. Then they showed it from a top view in slow motion – still no foul. Then the side view. Definately a foul.

Yes, I do believe that it is possible to have called the game in favour of LA in the last minute of play to extend the game to a 6 or 7 game series for more money.

However, the game wasn’t necessarily lost in that last minute of play. Two minutes earlier, Kevin Garnett missed 2 free throws, missed an easy tip in, and another guy missed something easy.

I think the reffing was called pretty fair and square yesterday in general.

The reffing in the last minute, sure it helped determine the outcome of the game, but that was not an easy foul to call. It could have gone either way in real time. But sure, I’m open to the possibility that the league wants to extend the seasons for more money. It appears that Boston easily allowed the refs to get their foot in the door.

No matter, I think it’s sweeter for Boston to win at home.

If Boston wins in game 6, then you may want to reconsider your theory.

If Boston wins in game 7, then you still don’t know, because the Boston series with every team (except Detriot) went to 7. Even in the first series when Boston was playing some crappy team (?Atlanta ?Orlando), it went to 7. There’s no way that was fixed team reffing.

What I do notice in all of the games I have seen over the last year is this: Refs in general, tend not to call fouls in the last minute of play. They stop calling a close game at that time. The last minute of play is always rougher (in regular season or play-offs), fouls are more often than not, let go, unless it’s a blantant foul. And if it’s blantant with under a few seconds to go, it’s not called. I always thought that this was because – opposite to your theory – the refs DO NOT want to dictate the outcome of the game. If the teams are tied, let’s say, a call at this point would indeed dictate the outcome of the game. Ask yourself this. Have you ever seen a game with under a few seconds to go, where there was clearly a foul committed, and the foul was called? I have never. Because in this case, the refs would help determine the winner in the last seconds of play.

I get your subtle stuff. And yes, I see this as more money for the NBA. But I don’t see it as malintentionally insidious as this.


Great comment Kathy. Yep, Garnett choked down the stretch. Ray Allen reverted to the “Artist Former Known as Ray Allen”. Rondo was worse than useless. Perkins was in a suit. All Boston had left at the end of the game was 38 year old PJ Brown, James The-Man Posey, Eddie Gimme-the-Ball House, and a particularly inspired Paul Pierce. No way they should have even been in the game. But L.A. was choking even worse. So the game came down to the last minute.

And like he’s done before, Bavetta determined the game. Had that Kobe foul on Pierce properly been called, Kobe would have picked up his 5th, and Pierce likely would have tied the game with 40 seconds to go. What a finish we would have had. I would have liked to have seen L.A. win that game fair and square. Maybe Derek Fisher would hit yet another a clutch game winner. Maybe Vujacic would be redeemed. Someone other than Dick Bavetta and David Stern determining the game for us.

As for the theory, Boston winning in six would mean to me: the refs, under Stern’s instructions, extended what would probably have been a 5 game series to 6. Boston is clearly the superior team — in a world in which the refs “let ’em play”. With European refs, the series would have been much closer. The skills of Gasol, Radmanovic and Vujacic would be magnified in that case. But that’s not this case.

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for the money has gone too far

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