For several years the NBA has been suspected of being less than even handed in its dealings with franchises. There have been issues with the NBA draft that magically allowed top draft picks to go to teams other than those with the worst records.
Patrick Ewing going to the Knicks and LeBron James going to the Cavs were examples of convenient good fortune for the league and those teams. When the Cavs lost James, the team “magically” won the ping pong ball drop and got the first overall pick in the 2011 draft.
Then the league sells the New Orleans franchise for 50 to 100 million dollars more than it was judged to be worth by most experts. Not unexpectedly, that franchise wins the first pick in the 2012 draft. That just added to the suspicion that unlike the state lotteries, there is a reason that the NBA ping pong balls are selected behind closed doors.
At the end of the regular season, I predicted the three teams that would win the top picks in the draft. I was right about both New Orleans and Carolina. I also picked the Nets to get a top three because of their need and move to Brooklyn. But they were replace by the Wizards and lost their first pick to Portland.
Then there is the issue of foul calls in the playoffs. The Heat was able to take many more free throws than the Celtics in the Eastern Division final series. That was explained away by pundits by noting that the Celts did not attack the basket the way that the Head did. That produced much fewer foul opportunities.
But now the darlings of the NBA (aka Heat) face as young and aggressive a team as the league has in Oklahoma City. If the Heat gets the same kind of free throw advantage against the Thunder that it got in the last series, something is seriously wrong. The officials must call this series as accurately and fairly as possible. We are all watching.
The NBA is on double secret probation by many sports fans around the country. If the game calls by the refs seem to give the Heat the advantage, those fans will view the NBA with the same lack of legitimacy they give the WWA and professional boxing. That will further erode the credibility and interest in the league by the average fan. But that is exactly the reputation the NBA will deserve.
That’s what I think. What do you think?
Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent.
He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on
and a non-fiction work at http://www.merriam-press.com/.
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An open letter to NBA officials. by Bill Smith