The world of professional sports is a complex one. People root for their favorite athletes or their favorite team, fully hoping for a round of wins.
Fans of professional sports don’t only enjoy watching these games, but more than that, many of these fans love putting in a bet or two on occasion.
Not knowing who will win between two awesome teams undeniably adds to the excitement of the games. So when one team clearly surpasses the other, games end up being predictable, which leads to a decrease in viewership.
Knowing this, do those in the NBA rig the results to increase viewership? Or are all these games for real?
Why Has the NBA Been Accused of Game Rigging?
The most memorable and well-documented investigation into the game rigging was headed by no less than New Jersey Senator Richard Codey (D) in 2007.
The scandal that rocked the NBA then involved a referee by the name of Tim Donaghy. Reports have shown that Tim Donaghy was in cahoots with some friends – some members of the mob – and had rigged games where he and his friends had placed bets on those particular games.
It was said in the reports that Donaghy had implicated friends who ranked high in the NBA, including team owners, officials, coaches, and even players.
This situation was said to have gone on for two seasons – from 2005 to 2007.
Donaghy was eventually indicted and given a 15-month jail term for his crime. He was also made to undergo supervised release for three years in addition to his 15-month jail term.
Since the Donaghy incident, so much suspicion has been placed on the NBA regarding game-fixing.
Adding to the controversy are other minor incidents that may have led to people believing that the games are fixed.
Drafting of Players
Drafting players to different teams can stir controversy and lead to suspicions of game rigging in the NBA.
One of the more controversial ones was Patrick Ewing’s transfer to the New York Knicks.
Patrick Ewing was very much in demand during his time, and his sudden move to the NY Knicks got many tongues wagging over how the lottery could have been rigged so that the Knicks could snatch Patrick.
Another incident linked to the drafting of players involved the transfer of Chris Paul during the 2011-2012 season.
Chris Paul was already in the process of being traded from the New Orleans Hornets to the LA Lakers when commissioner David Stern stopped the deal. This deal was supposed to give the Lakers a chance at getting a star player after having traded off Paul Gasol during that season.
The Curious Case of Michael Jordan
Whether or not you’re a basketball fan, it would be quite impossible for you not to have heard of the name Michael Jordan – one of the NBA’s most famous players.
Besides being a spectacular athlete, Michael Jordan was also known for another thing – his gambling addiction.
Jordan’s sudden retirement from the games made people suspect that he was involved in game-fixing that could have been connected to his habit. Fans, for a time, thought that his retirement was a graceful exit given to him by the league under speculations of game-fixing.
It was later proved that Jordan’s retirement was entirely voluntary, and this had nothing to do with any of his games.
The Referee Did It
If there’s one major source of controversy in the NBA games, it’s the referee. After the Donaghy incident, talks about anomalies in how the referees overlook a game have been rife.
Many players have called out the referees’ decision, especially when addressing both ordinary and technical fouls.
The latest controversy had the wife of Stephen Curry, Ayesha Curry, questioning a referee’s decision in a now-famous tweet.
Ayesha Curry had alleged that one referee had caused Stephen Curry to get a foul and eventually get booted out of the playoffs.
Even basketball legend James Harden and players of the Houston Rockets – rivals of Curry during that particular playoff – criticized the referees for those controversial calls two years after the incident.
Poor Player Performance
Players, especially the really famous ones, are burdened with so much expectation from their fans.
Star players are expected to deliver one spectacular after the other without being given much room for failure.
So fans and observers start to suspect the athletes are playing an awful game on purpose when a player fails to deliver in a given game and instead turns up with a dismal performance.
Players, of course, are subjected to a lot of psychological pressure and may be affected by how their teams perform in a given season.
Psychological pressure may suddenly change how these players perform on the court and lead to a less than impressive performance during a given game.
General Absence of Evidence
It’s quite easy to accuse the league of game manipulation or rigging. After all, the players in the NBA have always been known to produce miracle moves and shots that “normal humans” would be unable to do.
The truth of the matter, though, is that except for one scandal that previously tainted the league, there hasn’t been much proof that game rigging is common in the NBA.
What has come up, time and again, are speculations and even gossip about how the games are played with not much proof to back up the allegations.
Aside from the case of Donaghy, which still continues to haunt the NBA, most especially the referees, there hasn’t been any other case showing how the games are actually rigged.
It really is quite difficult to come up with a solid conclusion as to whether or not the NBA games are indeed rigged.
There have been many speculations and talk about several incidents that may lead fans to suspect game rigging, but most of these have been circumstantial.
Unlike the Donaghy case, where there was a direct admission of game rigging on the part of Donaghy, there really hasn’t been much to go by moving forward.
Donaghy, too, is only one minor part of an entire league, so fans must take into account that the entire league is made up of numerous people, from the players to the officials, up to the owners and even actual cities that these teams represent.
The Donaghy incident was certainly disheartening given the huge following of the NBA.
Many fans and families look forward to each season since the NBA is part and parcel of American society in general. It is already one of the many components that make up its fabric, so it isn’t surprising for the smallest controversy to send ripples across the nation.
Moving forward, the NBA should indeed be very careful in how it conducts its games – and even its trade-offs – every season. The Donaghy incident has already served as an example of how one small speck can tarnish the reputation of the entire league. If the NBA wants to keep its following in years to come, protecting its well-earned reputation should be its top priority.