NBA conspiracy theories resurface after LeBron-Durant no-call

WEB VOTE Do you believe the NBA controls the outcome of games or the Draft Lottery in any form?

The Heat and Oklahoma City get two days off before Sunday’s NBA Finals’ Game 3. No off days, however, for the sports conspiracy crowd that looks at the NBA the way the John Birch Society looks at the past 70 years.

For conspiracy buffs, the NBA Finals ranks somewhere between a midnight movie showing of Capricorn One and two weeks vacation at Area 51. The Goodyear blimp might as well be a black helicopter. Every officiating call gets the Zapruder film treatment and stand clear if such analysis reveals a questionable call that would fall in line with the prevailing theory of NBA Commissioner David Stern as master puppeteer.

Oh, and can I get a disappeared witness on this after Thursday? The game-long murmurs that the NBA wanted to make sure of at least a five-game series erupted into howls when Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant didn’t get the benefit of a foul call on LeBron James on Durant’s short baseline jumper that could’ve tied the game in the final seconds. Had they been a receiver and a defensive back downfield in the NFL, James might’ve drawn an illegal contact flag, which might say as much about modern NFL officiating as NBA playoff whistling.

And what about Durant and Serge Ibaka’s clean double-block of Heat forward Chris Bosh that got ruled goaltending, gifting two points to the Heat? Clear evidence of skullduggery at the crossroads, come the moans from some message boards and Twitter.

Just like Heat forward Shane Battier’s sudden improvement from three-point range can only mean an NBA operative in Butte assists every other shot using satellite guidance systems the league bought from the former Soviet Union. Isn’t it obvious?

No foul on Durant

This all ignores that had officials really wanted to bury Oklahoma City, they would’ve fouled out Durant for a charge when he crashed into Battier on a fourth-quarter drive down the lane. Instead, they just got the close call right (I didn’t think Battier got his feet set before Durant’s takeoff).

Also, if the NBA’s been orchestrating things over the years to the benefit of their television partners, how did San Antonio, the best sports franchise America refuses to embrace, wind up with four NBA titles in the past 14 seasons? Galactus in the league office can’t stop the Spurs fantastic four of Parker, Coach Pop, Manu and Tim Duncan?

I know of these conspiracy nuts. My sports-loving mother, during her time living in Detroit, once insisted Detroit’s Bad Boys carried Michael Jordan’s Bulls to Game 7 of the 1990 Eastern Conference final on orders from the NBA. Otherwise, my mother’s a semi-reasonable person.

Some of this is the NBA’s fault. Their lax security allowed referee Tim Donaghy to do all he shouldn’t, get busted for it, then get a platform for feeding the Fix is In crowd. In the NFL, an official puts his house up for sale when the league wasn’t expecting it and he gets a phone call the next day: “Everything all right with you?”

The NBA turns the unveiling of the Draft Lottery’s results into a half-hour show, but refuses to show fans the real drama of the balls actually being selected. There are people who, quivering hands clutching credential holders with tickets and pre-filled Lotto cards, watch Lotto numbers being sucked into tubes. Yet the NBA won’t show us the simplest event guaranteed to draw ratings.

ESPN’s Jim Rome asked Stern bluntly this week if the lottery was fixed. Stern responded by dropping into verbal eye-rolling mode, then making droll sport of Rome.

Stern conveniently ignores that doing the lottery out of the public eye guarantees deep suspicion no matter how many independent auditors and team representatives view it. Hey, the team reps might be in on the sham, according to the theorists.

Ridiculous, but … longtime hoop fans might remember the American Basketball Association used to hold its entire draft in secret because teams were cutting deals to put the best draws in the best places for each franchise (i.e., University of Kentucky star Dan Issel winding up with the Kentucky Colonels).

Cavs got top pick

How different does that look from forever-moribund Cleveland suddenly becoming relevant by winding up with the No. 1 overall pick the year everyone knew that would be Akron-born LeBron James? Or formerly NBA-owned New Orleans getting the No. 1 overall pick months after New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson takes the team off the NBA’s hands.

Of course, it’s coincidence. Probably. Just like the officiating … right? The mass postgame reaction puts added amusement to following sports these days. But conspiracy devotees beware — they’re tracking your key strokes.

Read more David J. Neal stories from the Miami Herald

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