Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The inside story of the 2002 NBA CONSPIRACY!!!!!

Many of my fellow officials view Tim Donaghy's recent accusations that playoff games in 2002 and 2005 were rigged by officials at the behest of the NBA to be a try-something, try-anything fiction thrown out by a man trying to reduce a potentially long prison sentence. I'll admit it certainly looks like that.

But it turns out it's all true.

I have obtained a copy of the actual conversation between David Stern and the men Donaghy's lawyers call "Referee A" and "Referee F." It was taped on a minicassette player hidden in a $5.00 bottle of water at a suite in the Downtown L.A. Hilton on May 30, 2002.

The tape was delivered here to Illegal Screen Headquarters due to my massive reach in the officiating news community. Incredibly, the conversation proves that every single improbable line of thought actually happened.

The transcript follows.

STERN: Thanks, fellas, for coming here. Sorry I'm late. I was exfoliating.

OFFICIAL A: I so understand.

OFFICIAL F: You look lovely.

STERN: Thanks, F.

OFFICIAL F: Why are you calling me "F"?

STERN: It's a future codename.

OFFICIAL F: Okay, Zsa Zsa.

STERN: Anyway, you probably know why you're here. I want to encourage each of you to do absolutely everything you can to get the Kings to lose tomorrow. Leave no stone unturned, no Kings foul uncalled, no King unfouled. It's hugely important for us to have the Lakers win tomorrow.

OFFICIAL A: I don't know about this, Commish...

OFFICIAL F: Yeah! I can't let that happen.

OFFICIAL A: Seriously. I spent years as a state trooper, risking my life to clean up New Jersey from mob influence. I gave up three years of my life to get some horrible, dangerous people off the street to help out the regular guys they extorted, threatened, and killed. Nothing pisses me off more than something crooked. How can you think I'll be on board?

OFFICIAL F: Yeah. Screw you, commish. I busted my ass in junior high ball, high school ball, got lucky and got noticed for college and D-I ball, and hauled myself around podunk towns doing CBA ball on a crappy per-diem hoping I'd get noticed. I did, and here I am at the top of my profession--all because I got a hard-earned reputation for being fair. And as a ref, my reputation is all I've got.

STERN: But wait. This is important.

OFFICIAL A: Important enough for us to piss away our consciences and reputations?

STERN: Yeah.

OFFICIAL F: What's at stake?

STERN: We have to have a game 7 back in Sacramento.

OFFICIAL A: Oh. Well, that makes it all better then. Count me in. I'm happy to give up everything I stand for for that.

OFFICIAL F: Wait, Mr. Stern--I mean Zsa Zsa. I'm not so sure.

STERN: No! It's hugely important to our bottom lines for there to be a Game 7. I know we've had massive, unprecedented international expansion. This summer, we'll get that tall Chinese fella here and make money like there's no tomorrow. We've never been more popular. Truffle?


STERN: Never mind. Fish wrapped in hundred-dollar bill?

OFFICIAL F: That's unsanitary.

STERN: Whatever. But my point is, we really need this series--all series, in fact--to go to a Game Seven. And we'll do whatever it takes to make that happen. Plus, I want to get my hair done in Sacramento. I can't find anyone good in New York or L.A..

OFFICIAL A: But commish, no other series this whole playoffs have gone to seven games.

OFFICIAL F: Yeah, and last year less than half did.

STERN: Really? Geez. I haven't been watching much basketball. I'm hooked on The Osbournes. Well, we'll start now. Besides, I only want large-market teams in the finals. Every year! That's why I've rigged the league to favor large markets.

OFFICIAL A: Like New Jersey? They look like they're about to go.

STERN: New-wha?

OFFICIAL F: Or Utah, twice? Or Portland? Indiana? San Antonio? Orlando? One of them has been in the Finals 7 of the last 10 years.

STERN: What are you, a damn almanac? Look. Indiana is the captial of basketball. Utah needs something to do. San Antonio has that big fella. Orlando had that other big guy. And Portland...well, I love New England. So they're all big markets, at least in my heart. So I made exceptions. For all of them.

OFFICIAL A: That makes sense. I'm totally sold on your plan! Okay, I understand how desperate the NBA is for a Game 7, and I get our inherent bias towards large-market teams, as well as the exceptions we let slide through nearly every year, including this one. So I'm willing to abandon everything I've ever known to do what you want.

OFFICIAL F: I'm not so sure, sir. What about the risks?

STERN: Risks?

OFFICIAL F: Risks. We're a multi-billion dollar business. You're filthy rich, and while I'm not making Commish money, I'm making six figures to chase these guys around...and the first number is not a one. I'm not sure I want to lose that. Plus, we can go to the slammer. Right, A?

OFFICIAL A: Damn right. Racketeering, fraud, all that.

OFFICIAL F: Yeah. And I don't think I'd do well in prison.

STERN: I probably would do great.

OFFICIAL F: Um...yeah. Still, I understand how important it is to throw all this away and risk our lives, livelihoods, the trust of millions of people, and the entire league, just so everyone can go back to Sacramento for one more game after tonight. Believe me, that's absolutely crystal clear, but I want to be assured that we won't be caught.

STERN: Of course! It will be a secret.

OFFICIAL A: You mean just us three, plus our partner tomorrow night?

STERN: Don't tell your partner.

OFFICIAL F: Why not?

STERN: Just don't. He's not in on the plan. He's not a "company man."

OFFICIAL A: How do I know we won't tell beyond this room?

STERN: We'll pinkie swear!

ALL TOGETHER: Cross me heart, hope to die, stick a needle in the eye.

STERN: Oh, except one more thing.


STERN: We need to be sure Tim Donaghy knows.

OFFICIAL A: No fair! We pinkie swore!

STERN: No. He just needs to know. So let's tell him.

OFFICIAL F: Okay. I'll call him. He's on his cellphone, probably in Atlantic City.

See how simple it all is?


At 9:55 PM, Blogger pankleb said...

What if Stern just said this:

"Look. Every single game is reviewed. In the playoffs, we review every game and give instant feedback. Do we sometimes send messages to refs mid-way through a series, such as, 'Watch those illegal screens by the tall guy?' Yup. Guilty as charged. Does anyone have a problem with that,if the tall guy really is setting those screens? And maybe, just maybe, sometimes refs swallow the whistle a bit and 'just let them play' a little, as long as no one is taking advantage of the rules unfairly or trying to injure others.

"In soccer and hockey, everyone understands that a rule violation may not be called if there is no advantage obtained by the violator. That's why you get late whistles -- I have the ball, you fall down and kick me, but I keep the ball and have a breakaway. Sometimes, that kick isn't a foul.

"So, Brent Barrys of the world, which do you want: a foul called every time you lean into a guy who jumps in the air outside the path of your 'jump shot,' or a crackdown on players who flop a la Bill Laimbeer and Vlade Divac? Because no way on earth are you getting both."

But then Stern would be telling the truth and scaring people. Which may be a bad idea, marketing-wise. It's probably better just to say that Donaghy's insane.


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