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We now have our NBA Finals set and it's a rematch of the 2006 NBA Finals.  In that infamous series, the Heat were basically given the series on a silver platter by the referees.  Dallas was up 2-0 in the series and led Miami in the third quarter of game 3 at which point Miami made a miracle comeback to win the game. Dwayne Wade went to the line 18 times in that comeback.

Miami won game 4 handily to tie the series up at 2-2. In that game, though, Jerry Stackhouse was called for a flagrant foul on Shaquille O'Neal that resulted in a suspension for Game 5. Mavericks officials called the suspension of Stackhouse, who was a key player, unfair. Shaq publicly said that the Stackhouse foul was not flagrant and didn't deserve a suspension, but it was yet another way that David Stern and the officials manipulated this series.

Miami won game 5 in overtime. In this game, Dwyane Wade shot as many free throws as all the Mavericks combined. In fact, Wade set an NBA Finals record for the most free throws made in a finals game as he made 21 of 25 free throws. The game ended with a very controversial play in which Wade committed a backcourt violation that wasn't called and then hit the game-winning free throws with 1.9 seconds left. The Heat shot 49 free throws to just 25 for the Mavericks in this game.

In game 6, Wade once again was given an unusually large number of free throws. Wade shot 21 free throws while the entire Dallas team shot 23. The Heat as a team shot 37 free throws. Several of the Mavs players were in foul trouble throughout the game.

Of course Mark Cuban cried foul about the free throw disparity and the multitude of blown calls in this series. After the end of game 6, Cuban was heard yelling at David Stern, who was sitting courtside:

“[Bleep] you! [Bleep] you! Your league is rigged!”
He was later fined a quarter of a million dollars for this outburst.

Knowledgeable fans of every team saw the terrible calls and felt that the Heat was handed the title by the league for whatever reason. Tracy McGrady, who is a good friend of Shaq's and had no reason to side against the Heat other than the truth, also felt that the series was rigged in favor of the Heat. Here is a quote from an interview with Tracy soon after the Finals ended:
Interviewer: Was it a little ridiculous how Dwyane Wade
got all the calls?
TMac: Yeah, yeah it really was. I'll tell you man, it
seems if you were watching that game, seemed like it was
rigged. Seriously. I know the NBA.... (cut off by
interviewer)

Interviewer: You just got fined (sarcastically)
TMac: I dont care. So what? But yeah it seemed like it
was rigged. With all the calls he was getting. Jesus. Did
you hear me? We are talking about the NBA Finals, I wish
I could say I was just kidding, and thats what it seemed
like.
That was then and this is now. We are about to have a rematch of this series. You would think that after a massive betting scandal in the NBA and added scrutiny on the officiating, there would be no question about the calls in this year's playoffs. Nothing could be further from the truth. The officiating in these playoffs has been among the worst in memory. The Miami Heat, in every series has been the recipient of some very charitable calls and non-calls that have led to wins for them.  .

I had written a review of Tim Donaghy's book Personal Foul last summer. If you haven't read that book, you really should. Some of the stories that Tim tells in that book are very eye opening as to the way the NBA has fostered the culture of corruption among it's referees.  If you watch many games, you will clearly see instances of what he talks about all the time.   Tim has been following these playoffs and has done a good job of pointing out instances where the officiating has been very suspect at best and corrupt at worst. An example of this is his take on the officiating of game 1 between Boston and Miami.
If you suffered through the first meeting between Boston and Miami, then you witnessed the most horribly officiated game in the 2011 Playoffs, so far. There was nothing consistent about it and several of the plays illustrate this point. The flagrant foul called on O’Neal was not even close to a flagrant, and it gave Miami two free throws and the ball, resulting in a five point play. Next, when Pierce pump-faked and got James Jones in the air, Jones came down with his arms around Pierce’s neck. That play was called a two-shot foul instead of the flagrant that it deserved, and when Pierce went after Jones, they got off-setting technical fouls. Then, when Dwyane Wade threw an elbow into Pierce’s stomach, that was about ten times as fierce than O’Neal’s previous foul, Pierce reacted verbally, received another technical and was ejected. While I don’t know what Pierce said to Wade and the officials, the protocol for handling a player with one technical in a Playoff game is to make sure that he deserved to be ejected beyond all doubt. If Pierce can be accused of reacting too quickly with his tongue, then officials most certainly should be called out for acting with disproportionate speed with his whistle! Ejecting Pierce in Miami was an easy result for the officials but trust me, it would have never happened in Boston. All at a time when Pierce started hitting three-point jump shots and when the team started heating up! Every time the Celtics started a successful run, the refs put an end to it.
Tim posts his thoughts on the Finals matchup in his latest blog:
This matchup is turning into David Stern’s worst nightmare, as the league knows that Mark Cuban is going to be watching the officials like a hawk. Any call that does not comply with the officiating rules, as written, will be met with a huge outcry from the entire city of Dallas generally, and from Mark Cuban, specifically and loudly. Cuban will simultaneously bitch about botched calls and point out missed calls to anyone who will listen. Stern is already losing sleep over how to keep Cuban quiet.

The owner of the Heat, Mickey Arison, has Stern’s private cell phone number, and Stern always takes his call. Cuban, on the other hand, is dealt with by other league executives who can talk in circles without giving him a real answer to the hard questions.

The key to this series is going to be the officiating, from start to finish. Miami’s physical style of defense always challenges the rules and if they are allowed to be as aggressive using their hands on defense, it’s going to be hard for Dallas to compete. If the rules are fairly applied and enforced the way they are written, Dallas has the best chance of a ring in the history of the franchise! And unlike 2006, any way you slice it, I don’t see Dwyane Wade walking off with the MVP title again.
David Stern has set up the system so that no one dares question his referees. If they do, they know that they will be fined, or in some way retaliated against. To illustrate his point about the calls that have gone Miami's way with no outcry from the press or anyone else, Tim offers the video below.



I don't know if the Mavericks have a chance in this game or not. Is Dallas a good enough team to win playing 5 on 8? Will the public scrutiny on this series because of the controversy still swirling about the 2006 series be enough to assure Dallas a fair shot? Is this the kind of payback that Stern arranges to "make up" to Cuban for what his minions did to Dallas in 2006? Does Mark Cuban have some kind of "dirt" on Stern to blackmail him into a fairly called series?  It's anyone's guess how this will play out. Stay tuned, it's sure to be an interesting series.

FLCeltsFan 5/27/2011 03:09:00 PM Edit
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13 Responses so far.

  1. tb727 says:

    They have a better chance than Chicago, but I'd say about the same as the Celts did.

    Miami in 5 or 6 is my prediction. And Mark Cuban will continue to abhor the city of Miami.

    What I would've given for a Celtics-Mavericks Finals....sigh...

  2. JR says:

    I'm glad Donaghy brought up the LeBron adventure travel in Game 4 vs Boston: http://www.celticslife.com/2011/05/lebrons-big-adventure.html If that 5 step had been called C's would have been 2-2 in the series.

  3. Bohemian says:

    Wow, this is one of the best articles I've read lately. Congrats!

    I hope Dallas can manage to win. But what I would prefer is David Stern to leave the league. Please leave Herr Stern. Now.

  4. Bohemian says:

    TB, Celtics-Mavs would have been amazing though a scary matchup since they beat us twice in the regular season...

  5. tb727 says:

    True Bohemian, but a couple things. First, I'm convinced after watching as much basketball as I've watched that you really got to throw out the regular season contests. Playoffs is all about matchups and which team and coach can adjust the best. What if one of those Boston losses was the second of a back to back and Dallas had been off 3 days?

    Secondly, if the Celtics lost to Dallas, it'd be MUCH more tolerable than losing to the enemy lol.

  6. Bohemian says:

    Agreed TB, playoffs are a different competition and I am sure we would have had big chances to beat the Mavs.

    And yes, losing to the damn Heat is almost as bad as losing to the...ah, nevermind...I miss the Celtics!!

  7. tb727 says:

    Yep I think KG steps up and really bothers Dirk and the Celtics knock off the Mavericks in 6.

    As for losing to the Heat, it sucks but for me personally, not even close to being as awful as losing to the other team...

  8. Bohemian says:

    But at least I respect that other team (though I hate it with all my heart) whereas for the Heat I have never respected them and I am not going to do so until they win fairly. That will never happen since Stern is still the commissioner and LeBrick, Rupaul and D-Jerk are playing for Miami

    I hope the Mavs beat them hard.

    As for the C's, we just lacked legs mainly because the little production from our bench (yes, I am thinking about you Big Baby Davis) and the mid season trade that altered our chemistry (yes, I am looking at you Mr Ainge). Without the trade, we have some bench and I believe we enter stronger into the playoffs.

    I really like Green and also Krstic but I wouldn't change them for Perk and Robinson.

  9. Liam says:

    I think the NBA should have an inquiry like FIFA is now. From what I can gather from listening to the news vaguely (in England) people are accusing FIFA of corruption and there are independent inquiries going on. Really should happen with David Stern

  10. ThomasJ says:

    Great article and while I have the same negative opinions of Stern and agree it was a reffing debacle we saw in 2006, this season I don't have strong feelings since I think Miami was the better team with better players vs. Chicago and their physical, athletic game will be too much for Dallas compared to what they have faced in the West and will be surprised if it goes more than 5.

  11. Three Toe says:

    two things that has led me to question the possible stern influence is the shortness of these latter series and the Mavs making it this far. what do you guys think? I would have thought there would have been more games. Also Durant, and to a certain degree Perk, making it to the Finals would have been a bigger story, and there would be no loudmouth Mark Cubans.

  12. Three Toe says:

    perhaps the latter means that the Mavs are just THAT GOOD now...?

  13. Timothy says:

    Hi guys, long time NBA watcher, Mavs fan, and Dallasite here. Normally I'd shy away from posting on another team's website but I can say the Celtics are a pretty classy team with a great history of ch'ships and players. Plus my dad is the worst Celtics/Steelers fan I've ever run across (he's always blind to his teams' wrongdoing).
    I have to say as long as I'd watched the NBA up unto 2006, I'd NEVER seen a game ref'ed like that Finals series. And I say that as neutrally as I can, despite my Mavs bias. This year, I really started noticing inconsistent calls in regular season games as well as playoffs. Early in games teams would be getting called for ticky tack crap, then in the waning seconds anything would go, or vice versa. I couldn't tell wether or not any team was favored, but maybe I wasn't looking. However I made sure to watch closely come playoff time. I didn't see that travel at first that Donaghy brought up - how obvious was that...and players seem to be getting away with that all the time now, along with the Shaq-endorsed triple jump hop step. I think he started that as a rookie in his first game when he broke that goalpost on national TV, btw.
    More on point of the original article, I think if the refs call a physical, grind it out game it favors the Heat, who probably are getting wore out by not playing their bench for any extended periods at all. It would slow down the game, more ft's, etc. If it's called pretty straight, Mavs would be my heady favorite to win. No bias of course.

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