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Caught in the Middle of a War

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As section214 linked last night, ESPN's Lester Munson has a good summary of why the hell this Donaghy thing is happening.

Look, Donaghy's probably lying to save his ass. He has not been a trustworthy character at all for at least the past four years. If he tried to sell me a box of Thin Mints for $2, I'd walk away. So when he tries to sell me wolf tickets about possibly the greatest injustice of sport I'll ever know, I should walk away.

But outsiders should consider just how long we've lived with this, and how it never goes away. Two early contributors to StR used the handles "27freethrows" and "NBA Officials are on the Take," for chrissake. Game 7 was an emotional defeat. Game 6 has always been seen, and always will be seen, as a robbery.

This might just be a pissing contest between Donaghy and the league. But one of our greatest sources of anger about the league is being dredged in the crossfire, our still-raw nerves exposed again. Look at how many fully reasonable Kings fans believe Donaghy. Look at how quickly this thing became a top news story in Northern California last night. Look at Ailene Voisin, doing her best to insist the fix wasn't in ... though she seems to hold reservations about the whole shebang.

The simple fact that it's so easy to believe Donaghy is the NBA's real problem here. Everyone saw the same Game 6 -- even Lakers fans. And everyone will at least entertain the possibility it was rigged. It's unfortunate it takes a scumbag like Donaghy to bring this discussion back from the shadows, and really, it's unfortunate it had the discussion had to return at all. But that's what happens when there's no transperency in NBA officiating, and that's what happens when something like Game 6 comes to pass.

The NBA could have fixed this by admitting the refs made repeated mistakes in Game 6. Bavetta, Delaney and Bernhardt all worked Finals games that year! Because the NBA stayed silent, and because Stern did not discipline those referees for the worst-called game in league history, this is where we are.

That's why we should be mad at the NBA. They let this -- the reopening of the wound, and the opportunity for numerous future wounds -- happen.