May 21, 2008

Who’s the NBA rooting for?

by Dan Bilicki In: Basketball

The NBA has been long accused of manipulating outcomes of certain events to keep fans interested in certain teams and matchups; these playoffs will be a good test to see if some “divine” intervention is taking place.

The undisputable dream finals would be Celtics-Lakers, shades of an age-old rivalry reborn in the modern era. It would also drive ratings through the roof for the series, something that doesn’t happen in the championship as often as the league would like it. By the time it rolls around, casual fans have usually tuned out or most die-hards have stopped caring because their team has been bounced. The fact that “boring” teams like San Antonio and Detroit – who play their defensive brand of ball – have been the usual contenders since Shaq left L.A. doesn’t help the league’s cause.

So what’s going to happen? Well when you figure in that the average NBA referee is easily influenced by home crowds and tend to sway their calls in that direction, the league could simply have officials stay the course since L.A. and Boston have home court advantage. But if either of those teams drop a game at home while getting the rub, look for the referees to help out in games 3 and 4.

And if the referees are fair and unbiased, well we may be looking at a whole new NBA in the post-Donaghy era.

And in case you were wondering, I’ll take the Lakers in 7.

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