Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Monday, May 28, 2012 at 1:41 PM
I have never been able to get it out of my mind, game six of the National Basketball Association in the 2002 Western Conference championship series between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Sacramento Kings. It was like it happened last night and was the first game in my four decades of handicapping I knew beyond doubt this game was fixed. Yes, I mean "fixed" in the purest sense of that word, fixed to make certain the Lakers won and forced a game seven in which they would be heavily favored to win and with the victory advance to the championship round.
Of course NBA Commissioner David Stern said that was impossible, that no such thing could happen on his watch. The lapdog media gave some attention to the possibility something was not right about this game but accepted Stern's appraisal. No surprise here. Stern was a refugee from the legal profession and like his peers could sit at the feet of God Almighty, lie and expect the big man to believe it.
This suggested imprimatur of honesty and dignity that goes with being the NBA commissioner won't fly in this spot. The facts, the reality of it all, trump words.
Let's set the stage for game six of this series in Sacramento. The Kings were up three games to two and were kicking the crap out of the Lakers in this contest. The win sent Sacramento the NBA championship round and sent the adored Lakers home.
Should that happen, the NBA championships would be decided between Sacramento and the New Jersey Nets-a series which would cause NBC television ratings to fall through the floor. The NBA and NBC could not permit this to happen and it is obvious they told the referees to do what they needed to do to make it happen.
The man who pays your salary calls the shots.
Most Infamous 4th Quarter In NBA History
Just in case you think I am letting my imagination run wild in saying the fix was in, may I note a Google search found 176,000 references to game six and the possibility it was fixed.
When it became obvious the Kings, who at 61-21 had the best regular-season record in the NBA Western Conference, were about to take game six and take on New Jersey for all the money, the officials took over.
The question is: when did the officials begin their stand against the Kings?
The Kings had three times opened up a 27-point lead in game two and then coasted home to a 13-point win. In game four, they were positioned to take a 3-1 lead in the series. In that one they were up 24 points and all at once the Lakers started to get most of the calls, and all of the close ones, and Robert Horry hit a 3-point at the buzzer to give L.A. the win.
Sacramento won game five to take a 3-2 lead in the series and were well on their way to winning game 4 in the best-of-seven series and with it the championship-and the officials took over.
The Lakers were beaten heading into the fourth period, but it did not matter. A Los Angeles team that averaged 22 free throws per game in the first five games of the series but went to the line 27 times in the fourth quarter alone in this one.
Bad calls, phantom calls ruled the day. The officials were determined to make sure the Lakers did not go down in this one, and they did just that. Los Angeles, 34-40 from the free throw line, won the game 106-102. The Kings hit 18-of-25.
One could write a book about this game alone.
Same Situation In Boston-Miami Series
This brings me to the Eastern Conference Championship Series between the Boston Celtics and the Miami Heat. This best-of-seven series begins tonight in Miami and we have the same scenario in this one that we had in the infamous 2002 Lakers-Kings game six. The NBA needs Miami and the question in my mind is, if league must cheat to assure that outcome, will it.
With all due respect the bloom is off the rose in Boston and the Celtics are just another old, beat-up team that has lost much of its public appeal. Miami is one of the darlings on the NBA and certainly a public team.
If something miraculous should occur, and Boston survives past four games, will the fix again be in.
The Western Conference winner-either the San Diego Spurs or the Oklahoma City Thunder-will have its hands full with Miami, or vice versa, in the championship round, and there is a good chance that series would go the money-making seven games. A Boston matchup with either the Spurs or the Thunder would be four-and-done.
Television numbers and NBA money is one the line in the Heat-Celtics series.
Beware, and trust no one.
Tonight's Betting Menu
25-Unit Play As Celtics-Heat Open Championship Round
The Boston Celtics and the Miami Heat open their best-of-7 Eastern Conference championship series tonight and both certainly bring a ton of history to this nationally televised (ESPN) game. For instance Miami beat Boston 4-1 in last year's eastern semifinal round but the Celtics hold a 3-1 edge in the teams' four meetings this season. The number is tough but my figures say this one merits a solid 25 units of action and I am going with it. Win this one for just $15, charged to your major credit card. For the record I knocked down a 50-unit winner Sunday as the Oklahoma City Thunder (+5 ½) got the cover in a 3-point, 101-98, loss to the San Antonio Spurs.
50-Unit Knockout Winner Should Keep Baseball Weekend Perfect
My Chairman's Baseball Club is having an excellent week and intends to keep right on winning today with a 50-unit knockout play on a modest favorite that has better than a 90% chance to get the cash. You can win this one with me for just $15, charged to your major credit card. For you inspection, here is my Chairman's Club plays for Saturday and Sunday.
Saturday, May 26
75-Unit 2-Team Parlay
25 Units: Nationals (-120) 8, Braves 4 (W)
25 Units: Yankees (-158) 9, Athletics 2 (W)
25 Units: Parlay of Nationals and Yankees (W)
Sunday, May 27
25 Units: Nationals (+115) 7, Braves 2 (W)
15-Unit Baseball Power Play Highlights 2-0 Day
I split my Best Bets Baseball Club plays yesterday, winning a 15-unit play on the Cincinnati Reds (-165) with their 7-5 victory over the Colorado Rockies while losing a 10-unit play on the Baltimore Orioles. I am coming right back today with two more games, the highlight of the day a 15-unit release. Win this game, plus another unit-rated game, for just $10, charged to your major credit card.
Games also available toll free at 1-800-755-2255.