Bill Simmons tosses out a conspiracy theory complete with video proof that David Stern fixed the '85 draft. I don't doubt that there are a lot of conspiracies going on in the NBA to achieve the desired results, whether in the draft, or in games, or in the playoffs. I have watched too many games where the officiating is so one sided that it just leaves you scratching your head. It may be because of a directive from the top or the preferences of a particular ref, but it happens.
While I am on this, one of the things that upsets me most about the NBA is the absolute untouchability of the refs. Coaches, players and owners can't say a thing about the refs, even when there is an obvious miscarriage of justice, without getting fined or suspended. Even in the case of Joey Crawford's tossing Duncan for laughing on the bench, Duncan was fined after the incident for comments made about Crawford. The NBA needs to put a governing authority over the refs, and not just David Stern. They should have a committee of coaches, players, and owners to oversee the officiating so that when there is a problem, it can be fairly assessed. I believe if that were the case, we would be seeing a lot less complaining by everyone and a lot more equity in the calls being made.
Just in case they pull down the clip between the time we post this blog and the time you read this, here's what happens: when an accountant from Ernst & Whinney throws the seven envelopes into the glass drum, he bangs the fourth one against the side of the drum to create a creased corner (we'll explain why this is relevant in a second). Then he pulls a handle and turns the drum around a couple of times to "mix" the envelopes up. At the 5:23 mark of the clip, Stern heads over to the drum, unlocks it and awkwardly reaches inside for the first envelope (the No. 1 pick). He grabs three envelopes that are bunched together, pretends not to look (although he does) and flips the three envelopes so the one on the bottom ends up in his hand. Then he pulls that envelope out at the 5:32 mark ... and, of course, it's the Knicks envelope. If you look closely right at the 5:31 mark, right as the commish yanks that Knicks envelope out, there's a noticeable crease in the corner of the envelope. You can see it for a split-second -- as he pulls the envelope up, it's on the corner that's pointing toward the bottom of the jar.
There's a giant crease! It's right there! The same one the accountant created as he was throwing the envelopes into the drum!
So you're telling me that, out of the seven envelopes in that glass drum, during a lottery when the NBA desperately needed the most ballyhooed college center in 15 years to save the league's marquee franchise, the commissioner coincidentally pulled out the envelope with a giant crease in the corner that happened to have the Knicks logo in it? This is the Zapruder film of sports tapes, isn't it?
Now the question we have to ask is, since we no longer have envelopes that can be marked, is there a way to fix the lottery now? Would there be a reason to? Just as Stern is very serious about protecting the integrity of the league with his dress codes, fines, and protection of the officials, he needs to be very careful now that there can be no possible appearance of inpropriety in the lottery process. If Stern's integrity comes into question, teams tanking or Danny sitting next to Durant's mom would be the least of his worries.