Anti-Denver cabals.* Accusations of general officiating incompetence from the nation's most prominent NBA writer, who makes some solid points but generally (unless I am misreading him) yearns for a return to the glory days of grown men beating on each other in the paint. Let us all agree: The most compelling NBA playoffs in recent memory have been ruined by the zebras, except...it's not true.
But I suppose this is what happens when sources of objectivity are subsumed by a dense forest of fandom.**
Quoth ESPN's John Hollinger:
That won't stop everybody from grousing about it in the meantime, of course. We'll complain about zebras' being cowed by the league into blowing whistles on every play and hark back to the glory days when the Bulls and Knicks would beat each other up while the refs stood by and let the grown men settle it. (Those seasons actually had higher rates of free-throw attempts per field goal attempt than 2008-09, but we wouldn't want facts to get in the way of a good story.)
The Internet: Fostering paranoia and conspiracy theories since 1995.
*I realize, as previously stated, that the NBA brought much of this criticism upon itself with the Donaghy revelations, but the fact that actual players are now accusing the Lakers of paying $50,000 to "win that game" is proof of just how utterly ridiculous the conspiratorial notions have gotten. And why only $50,000? I realize this is the fine Phil Jackson and the Lakers paid for complaining after Game 4, but come on now: Is that all it costs to guarantee a playoff victory these days? Shouldn't there be an extra vig on the back end? Doesn't Jack Nicholson pay more than that for a single-game ticket? I would think there are reserves on the Denver bench who pay more than that for their earrings. Perhaps this is proof that the fundamentals of the economy are worse than we could have imagined. Somebody get Geithner on the line!
**Terrible metaphor alert.