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The Fix Was In For LA? No Way

The conspiracy theorists thinking that the league office is purposely attempting to have a Los Angeles Lakers-Boston Celtics NBA Finals began lining up the moment it was announced that official Joey Crawford had been assigned to Game 4 of the Western Conference finals Tuesday night. And when Crawford held on to his whistle and didn't call a foul after watching Derek Fisher bump San Antonio's Brent Barry on Barry's last-second, desperation shot, the chorus grew even louder.

"They want Lakers-Celtics. That's what it is," one fan yelled as she left the AT&T Center following the Lakers' 93-91 victory.


Are you buying what I forgot to sell? (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

The "they" of course, was the NBA, which always seems to find itself in some sort of controversy this time of the year. Last year, it was Pheonix Suns fans clamoring about the suspensions of Amare Stoudemire and Boris Diaw. Now, it's the foul that wasn't called by the Spurs' favorite official.

Crawford has had a rather dicey history with the Spurs. He was suspended last season after he tossed Tim Duncan from a game for laughing on the bench and later challenged Duncan to fight. In Game 5 of the Spurs' series against the New Hornets Hornets, Crawford got into an argument with Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich over a delay of game call that ended with Popovich getting a technical foul and swiping away Crawford's hand.

Before the game, some reporters were wondering if anybody was going to ask Popovich what he thought about having Crawford work the game. When the question was finally asked, Popovich said Crawford's presence would have "absolutely no effect whatsover" on his team.


Joey! (Photo by Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)

"It doesn't matter who the officials are for the game," he said. "They are going to do their best job to officiate, just like the Lakers and the Spurs are going to do their best job to play a game. Whatever the pool is, you could pick three guys out of a hat. It doesn't matter. That's irrelevant to the outcome of the game."

That might be up for debate now.

Do I think the "fix" was in last night? No. Absolutely not.

Let me give you a few reasons why that is not the case.

1) There is no doubt that Fisher made contact with Barry. He admitted as much. Barry acknowledged it. And nobody with two eyes - or four - could've missed it. Why wasn't the foul called? Because Barry didn't sell it well enough. Officials don't make calls in the final seconds unless their hand is forced. When Fisher jumped, landed and Barry re-set to take the three-point shot, the refs let the players decide the game. They weren't going to save him on a shot that had no chance of falling. If Barry really wanted the refs to bail him out, he should've done the old Reggie Miller: lean into Fisher while attempting a shot, absorb the contact while aiming toward the basket, throw his arms wildly into the air and make somebody blow the whistle. Since he didn't, since he simply stopped in his tracks after the contact and shot the ball, all he could do was beg afterward.

2) The Spurs had a decided edge in fouls for most of the night, and finished with 26 attempts compared to the Lakers' 19. In the fourth quarter, the Spurs had no free throw attempts and the Lakers had 10, but that was more because the Lakers were aggressive in the final period, and the Spurs had to foul late in the game.

The most telling statistic was that Kobe Bryant took 29 shots and didn't attempt a single free throw. The Spurs committed fewer fouls than any team during the regular season, but Bryant not shooting a free throw? That's almost unheard of. When he was asked about the final play with Fisher and Barry, Bryant said it wasn't a foul. "Not with all of the contact that was going on during the game. No way," he said.


You don't think the Commish wants more of this? (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

3) Lakers Coach Phil Jackson was upset that the Spurs even had a chance to take the final shot. The Lakers had the ball with 28 seconds and Bryant let the clock melt until he found Fisher on the left wing. Fisher missed a jumper that may have grazed the rim.

Replays were inconclusive, but it did seem that the shot changed direction before hitting the ground. The shot was not reviewable, and the Lakers had to shoot with just 2 seconds on the shot clock. Bryant then missed a fallaway shot with Bruce Bowen and Robert Horry defending.

"I'm positive Fisher's shot hit the rim," Jackson said. "That ball should have been ours with a new 24-second shot clock. It should have been our ball with them having to foul us at the end of the game to get the ball back rather than us having to take a tough shot. . . Not withstanding the fact that Fish did bump [Barry], I thought, and it was a non-call."


Joey, did you put something in Manu's drink? (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

4) No conspiracy theory or officiating can account for the disappearance of Manu Ginobili. It's amazing that the Spurs were even in this game considering that Ginobili finished with seven points on 2 for 8 shooting. He missed his first five shots and didn't score until the final six minutes of the fourth quarter. He hit a huge three-pointer with 42 seconds left, but the Spurs will not win if he doesn't make shots. This was the second time this series that Tim Duncan was dominant (29 points, 17 rebounds) and the Spurs couldn't capitalize because Ginobili had a terrible game.

5) Finally, the league wants this series to last as long as possible, especially with the ratings the way they are. Fans are tuning in droves to watch this series, according to the folks at TNT. Game 1 of this series had better ratings than the "American Idol" finale in Los Angeles. NBA commissioner David Stern would love to milk all that he can from a series between Bryant and the defending champion Spurs.

I'm sure you all have your opinions. Fire away.

By Michael Lee  |  May 28, 2008; 6:47 AM ET
 
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Next: Final Thoughts (Maybe) On The Non-Call

Comments

No conspriacy...just average basketball. I expected a better brand with so many allstars on the court. These games have not been very pretty. I miss the old days.

Posted by: oddjob | May 28, 2008 7:17 AM | Report abuse

So it was a foul but the player didn't sell it hard enough? Oh please! So now the rule is players have to SELL fouls? Give me a break! If the fix is not in, the NBA really goes well out of its way to make it look like it. Of all the available refs, why Joey Crawford?

Posted by: Bart | May 28, 2008 8:05 AM | Report abuse

Why is it up to players to "sell" a foul? This is what has created "diving" in soccer and is beginning to happen in basketball as well. A foul is a foul, no?

Posted by: Dsmac | May 28, 2008 8:29 AM | Report abuse

You wanna fight me?

Posted by: Joey Crawford | May 28, 2008 8:33 AM | Report abuse

Okay so one minute we get on NBA players (Ginobili) for constant flopping, then in turn say that Barry didn't "sell" the foul well enough?

Yes, the NBA is slowly becoming the WWE.

Scripted.

Posted by: Confused | May 28, 2008 8:39 AM | Report abuse

Something needs to be done about NBA officiating. Why are they so untouchable? Bring on instant replay which in my opinion would make the refs more accountable.

Posted by: Donaghy's hero | May 28, 2008 8:47 AM | Report abuse

This wasn't his first Spurs game since "the incident", he officiated game three of the Spurs-Suns series in round one.

Posted by: Ernie | May 28, 2008 8:48 AM | Report abuse

There were so many blown calls in this game, the no call on Duncan's traveling, the goaltend on Odom that wasn't really a goaltend, hell watch closely Barry traveled on the final play the list could go on and on. If anything the officials kept the Spurs in this game. There is no conspiracy, just universally poor officiating by the NBA.

Posted by: Frank | May 28, 2008 8:49 AM | Report abuse

I'm seriously conflicted about whether a foul should have been called on Fisher on the play in question. Normally, I'm of the opinion that a foul is a foul is a foul, whether there are 2 seconds left in the first quarter or two seconds left in the game. And there's no question in my mind that, if the same play had happened in the second quarter, a foul would have, and should have, been called. But if you call a foul on Fisher last night, you bail out Barry, who was probably not going to make a closely-guarded shot from 25-30 feet, and you put him on the line, where, as a good foul shooter, he likely takes the game into OT (or wins it if they give him three shots). And you do all of this for a non-shooting (in my opinion) foul. I don't have a problem with the non-call last night.

Posted by: rbpalmer | May 28, 2008 8:55 AM | Report abuse

Me neither. And if they were going to call a foul, it should have been before he attempted the three pointer because the contact was made way before he launched the shot at the three. This would have made it a tie game. I thought for once the officials did the right thing.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 28, 2008 9:22 AM | Report abuse

There were missed calls all night, (Did anyone see Tim Duncan get to the hoop from 18 feet out without a dribble?), that's a part of sports. Anyone who watched the game knows that the Spurs played horrible on their home court and got the benefit of the whistle the whole night. The only NBA conspiracy is who kidnapped the real Manu Ginobli...

Posted by: Bill M | May 28, 2008 10:26 AM | Report abuse

What a dumb post, Michael. First, you said it wasn't a foul because Barry didn't sell it enough? Really? I don't want to ever see you complain about floppers again.

Second, you reference the fact that the Spurs had more foul shots than the Lakers. Why isn't that just due to the Lakers fouling the Spurs more on shooting situations? You mentioned the Spurs had the fewest fouls in the league this season. Why would that stop last night?

Third, why on earth would the league put Crawford in a playoff game with the Spurs? Not saying it's a conspiracy; just saying that it is a horrible business decision in light of Crawford's behavior last year and the credibility issues on the heels of the Donaghy situation.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 28, 2008 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Frank just hitted it. The fact that Barry traveled before hoisting the shot makes the difference.

GAME OVER. CASE CLOSED!

Posted by: Bryan | May 28, 2008 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Anon:

first, I think Michael is just acknowledging the reality of the NBA. Regardless of whether or not you like it, players do flop. He's saying Barry didn't flop ENOUGH to get the call. He's not saying "Barry, why didn't you do this!" He's just stating the reality of the NBA.

Second, did you even watch the game? The game was obviously in favor of the Spurs. Not saying that the game was fixed or even all that one-sided, but Kobe was obviously manhandled when he drove a couple times, yet no call. There wasn't a huge disparity, but it was there.

Third, they may be trying to show that there is no conspiracy. They talked to Crawford, he's a professional, the past is past, etc. etc. It's not like the game was decided due to officiating anyways. The Spurs lost due to the disappearing act of Ginobli, plain and simple. Nobody would have called that last foul. The foul wasn't during the shot, Brent tried to go AROUND Fisher when he shot rather than through, etc. If Barry wanted the foul, he should have just gone straight up.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 28, 2008 11:46 AM | Report abuse

It wasn't even close to being a shooting foul anyway.

Posted by: Boateng | May 28, 2008 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Plus, did anyone see the 10th to 9th minute of game 6 between the Spurs and Hornets. The Spurs don't deserve anything, that was the most pathetic worst minute of basketball I have ever seen. A total disgrace of the game created by the refs and the extreme flops by Bowen and Duncan. 5 fouls and one technical foul against the hornets star players in which only one of which was a foul and it was a questionable one at that.

Posted by: Boateng | May 28, 2008 12:31 PM | Report abuse

You don't need to over-complicate things with "conspiracy theories". The officiating in the NBA is just flat-out atrocious and inconsistent all the time year round.

The horrendous officiating, along with an obvious league-wide favortism slanted toward the top stars, is quickly killing the NBA in my opinion...I'm gonna start getting into hockey during the winter season...

Posted by: p1funk | May 28, 2008 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Frank you hit the nail on the head. And the state of NBA officiating is yet another blot on the rapidly deteriorating Stern regime and yet another problem Stern has refused to fix.

Posted by: George Templeton | May 28, 2008 12:38 PM | Report abuse

I agree p1funk, the ref's are horrible one minute its a foul tne next its not, make up your mind will ya!! in addition star power is in effect in the league night in and night out rules for certain players and the stars get a pass no wonder we're conspiracy theorist I say get a new commish, not likely huh? By the way any thoughts on Roy Hibbert if he's around at #18.

Posted by: Dargregmag@aol.com | May 28, 2008 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Did anyone out there watch the post-game? NOT ONE PERSON, including I might add, Popovich, Barry or Tim Duncan, thought that was a foul. Every one of the so-called experts thought it was a good no-call. Charles Barkley said that no ref is going to give anyone that call and decide a game, and he's right. Barry didn't do enough to earn it. Fisher went straight up and Barry obviously ducked under him. That's not any kind of foul, the defender is entitled to his space. If Barry had gone up he might have had a shot at it, but he backed up and then threw up a shot. Even Reggie Miller, who turned drawing cheap fouls into an art form, didn't give it to him. Seems like the only people whining are the Spur fans, which is fitting since the Spurs whine more than any team in basketball.

Posted by: vbxtc | May 28, 2008 12:51 PM | Report abuse

I truly believe the officiating problem goes hand-in-hand with the NBA's approach to star-marketing/glorification.

Everything about the NBA, from the telecast to the commercial side of things is slanted heavily toward the "stars" in the game. The NBA relaxes and tightens certain rules to float the stars - keep them in the game (rarely do they get in foul trouble, which is preposterous when you consider that they play the most minutes of everyone), let them do things that bolster their "stardom" (like allowing LeBron to take 3-4 steps on the way to the rim, or back in the day allowing Allen Iverson to carry the ball on his cross-over move). In fact, the stars got so used to getting all the calls all the time, they had to institute the stricter techincal rule last year for arguing b/c NBA divas started going overboard with their whining and temper-tantrums.

And so the professionalism of the league is in trouble; not only do you have atrocious and inconsistent officiating designed to protect the "stardom" of the stars, but you are also developing a generation of NBA divas who expect the NBA universe to revolve around them.

Posted by: p1funk | May 28, 2008 12:53 PM | Report abuse

vbxtc,

I truly believe it was a no-call b/c it was Brent Barry with the ball in his hands. If it were LeBron James or Chris Paul, you think there would still be a no-call in a situation like that?

Posted by: p1funk | May 28, 2008 12:58 PM | Report abuse

I'm gonna start getting into hockey during the winter season...

Posted by: p1funk | May 28, 2008 12:33 PM

One thing I'd like to see in the NBA that they do in NHL: let the ref stand back for approx the first 20 seconds of a fistfight, allowing at least two punches each to land, before he steps in to stop it. Of course if there is a mismatch in size, just 10 to 15 seconds. And no fouls to boot - I would love to see that in the NBA.

Just kidding.

Posted by: rgz | May 28, 2008 12:58 PM | Report abuse

I can understand refs letting iffy or incidental contact go on a deciding shot. But Fisher jumped in the air and literally landed on top of Barry as he was trying to shoot. That's not incidental. That has to be a called foul.

That said, Barkley, Miller, and Smith were spot on in the post game when they said Barry should have followed through and jumped into Fisher as he came down, rather than avoiding the contact. Not only would he likely have gotten the call, he also would have had a better look at the shot even if he didn't get the call.

Posted by: kalorama | May 28, 2008 1:00 PM | Report abuse

it is a popular but bizzare theory that everything is okay if it is the final minutes of a conference or championship final. if that's the case why do players even bother to dribble the ball. lets just play rugby on the basketball floor! conciously or unconciously referees do favor certain players and certain teams.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 28, 2008 1:25 PM | Report abuse

it is a popular but bizzare theory that everything is okay if it is the final minutes of a conference or championship final. if that's the case why do players even bother to dribble the ball. lets just play rugby on the basketball floor! conciously or unconciously referees do favor certain players and certain teams.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 28, 2008 1:25 PM | Report abuse

This wouldn't be up for debate if the Lakers would have received a new 24 second shot clock. I mean his shot did hit the rim.

Posted by: Stephanie | May 28, 2008 1:41 PM | Report abuse

the nba has become professional wrestling. all sorts of subplots and orchestrated finishes. it cannot be taken seriously...

Posted by: nbasux | May 28, 2008 1:54 PM | Report abuse

To all those who want to get rid of Antawn Jamison, they're giving him some love over on the Cleveland.com/cavs fans' replies to articles/blogs. Even their most awful non-reporter Branson something or other wants him and if not Jamison, he's willing to take Jermaine O'Neal.

Their fans are even asking if Cleveland might be able to afford Gilbert. I find the knowledge the Cavs fans have about salaries, salary cap, luxury tax, etc. much much lower than over here on the Wiz Insider.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 28, 2008 2:27 PM | Report abuse

This sux, I miss the Wizards.

Posted by: Burg w/ a U | May 28, 2008 2:27 PM | Report abuse

exactly.....p1funk great post any other player besides Brent Barry and that foulo gets called...If it was parker or Ginobli the whistle gets blown. Or flip it the other way if that was Kobe Bryant the whistle would have been called without a doubt.

Also complete BS that crawford would ever do a SPURS game in the playoffs. They clearly hate each other and you can't let emotions even have a chance of coming into play.

Also the spurs should get more FT's like the article says they gave up the least in the league....the lakers are soft and shoot a ton of jumpers..and the spurs score most of their points in the paint..obviously the spurs should get more calls.

I absolutely think the NBA wants LAL and the Celtics. Since the Pau Gasol trade thats all ESPN ever talked about. I couldn't even watch the Utah series...if they called that close to fair it would have gone 7....the lakers would have won but when you give a team almost 20 more FT's a game who do you expect to win. The celtics also got all the calls against the cavs in game 7.

Anyone who think Donaghy was a rogue is clueless...it has gone on in the NBA and continues to go on. No one can sit here and tell me that the Dallas/Miami finals wasnt fixed. Dwayne wade was going to the line more than the entire Dallas team. The league wants LAL vs Celtics and thats what they will get.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 28, 2008 2:32 PM | Report abuse

"the nba has become professional wrestling. all sorts of subplots and orchestrated finishes. it cannot be taken seriously"


Good Post I hate being the conspiracy theorist but it gets more obvious every year. Also if you are a betting man like me its even more obvious. Its not just the NBA...its college as well. Its getting out of hand they need to get a bunch of choir boys to ref the games other wise its hard to take serious.

Also to let Joey Crawford ref that game is just a slap in the face of the spurs by the league. There is no doubt he takes joy in the spurs losing....how is it possibly ok to let him ref that game. Whats the diffrence btw letting him ref against the spurs and donaughy reffing any game. Its unbelievable he threw duncan out for laughing and challenged him to a fight and in the spurs most critical game of the season who do we see reffing when the league desperately want the spurs to lose...none other than Joey Crawford himself.

It would be wrong not to ask the question and there needs to be an investigation b/c that is ridiculous.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 28, 2008 2:41 PM | Report abuse

vbxtc....the spurs are just a no excuse team of course they are going to say no foul. Anyone with 2 eyes saw that was clearly a foul. I know this for a fact if that was kobe and the foul didnt get called everyone and their mother would be crying right now. The spurs just take it like men and move on but it was clearly a foul.

Aslo Barry didn't travel and if he did it was b/c he was fouled 1st.....and anyways they don't call traveling in the NBA

Posted by: Anonymous | May 28, 2008 3:30 PM | Report abuse

PLEASE!!!!!!! Even Stevie Wonder can see that the fix is in for an La vs.Bos. series but Detroit might not go quietly. They ain't playin along with "Sterngate" they got other plans like winning the NBA championship Joe Dumars ain't nobody's puppet!!.

Posted by: Dargregmag@aol.com | May 28, 2008 3:35 PM | Report abuse

so if the nba was a fix..there is no way in hell the detroit pistons are coming out on top in the East. If they do, then to hell with all these "nba is fixed" remarks

Posted by: Anonymous | May 28, 2008 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Why are you all surprised about the call. You think the NBA is working on a half Brent Barrry face, half Kevin Garnett face for the finals commercial?

Posted by: Bowie, MD | May 28, 2008 6:25 PM | Report abuse

get rid of agent dildo.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 28, 2008 7:26 PM | Report abuse

The Spurs got hosed. This call was worse than the no call on MJ against Bryon Russell.

The refs didn't call a 3 shot foul, which was correct, but they should have called a foul on Fisher with 2 shots on the line for Barry. At least that would have given the Spurs the chance to tie it up.

Posted by: DC Man88 | May 28, 2008 10:19 PM | Report abuse

Lakers-Celtics. Ka-ching!

Posted by: khrabb | May 29, 2008 6:10 AM | Report abuse

Lakers-Celtics. Ka-ching!

Posted by: khrabb | May 29, 2008 6:10 AM | Report abuse

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