It’s Not Over
If the 2016 United States presidential election showed us anything, it’s that nothing is ever over in this country anymore. Common advice, to the point of cliché, is to move on from disappointments, to never dwell on past hurts, and to stop talking about them over and over with no new insights. This is the healthy attitude of successful people. It’s difficult and everyone laments occasionally. Some people, however take incessant pining as a way of life. The election is over and all votes from the electorate and the electoral college were tallied and finalized long ago. Yet everyone is still talking about it and analyzing it, because many are convinced the rules were flouted in a conspiracy to defraud the outcome. The Democrats sing that the Russian government of Vladimir Putin tried to influence the election, and various scenarios have been postulated. The debates are a popular incitement in the public discourse.
The election isn’t the only controversy of recent top-level contests. The 2018 NBA Finals were expected to be yet another mismatch between the same two teams as the previous basketball championships. The only variable was considered how many games it might take the Golden State Warriors to defeat the Cleveland Cavaliers. The result was as expected, and begat The Decision3, and later the demoralizing, decamping, and metamorphosis of The Land’s sports savior LeBron, into L.A. Bron. The Cavs faithful descended from championship contention to less than also-rans, from a few games.
The series has been discussed a lot. Every commenter has offered a version of what happened. Most Cavs fans, and most impartial observers noted one key turning point. The famous reversed call and other officiating errors in the first game. The specific events have been exhaustively described by many others, so we will emphasize only the relevant factors instead of offering a replay. The NBA had a vested interest in dethroning the Cavaliers. The league had been ridiculed for its lack of parity in recent years, with the same Finals matchup always offered as the prime example. This was going to cost the league and its beneficiaries, the players, team owners, and advertisers, an ever-increasing amount of money. The Coastal favoring sports media gave the Warriors the panache formerly devoted to the Los Angeles Lakers. The Cavaliers were a very unbalanced team, with basically one player carrying the team, whereas the Warriors were very balanced, enhanced through the acquisition of arguably the league’s second best player. The league did nothing to discourage this. Herein is the first part of the suspicious activity.
Then came the first and decisive game of the finals, where the Cavs, to everyone’s surprise, made a run and shook the Warriors. People don’t talk much about the Warriors inability to score when they are behind. When they have to make plays, their easy threes become airballs and over-the-backboard misses. We have all watched this happen to the talented and intimidating dynasty of the west. As a courageous and heroic victory appeared imminent, the officials made a series of “errors” flipping the outcome of the game to the Warriors. Late in the game, Kevin Durant ran into a stationary, properly positioned LeBron James. The contact foul was clear and obvious. Every commentator agreed. Yet the officials, standing right there, claimed they weren’t sure of the obvious positioning of the players. So they called for a replay conference with the league office. Somehow, they got it wrong after viewing replays from every angle. They used this as an excuse to look for something to give the Warriors the advantage they required. They found an illegitimate excuse, and then called the foul against the innocent Lebron James, and gave Kevin Durant the luckiest call of his career. This resulted in a very different situation to end the game, and the Cavs flubbed it miserably. The situation never should have occurred, but that never has any significance on the point totals of any game. We were told after the series, this caused an anger induced injury, such that the best player in the league could no longer carry his team far enough, and his teammates weren’t up to the task of taking up the slack. It was obvious in each game they were defeated before the game. Emotional defeats in sports have a carryover into each next game. The Warriors easily took the championship.
Illicit Office Meeting
So what happened during the officials conference, and why was there a conference at all for an obvious foul call? Well, here is the secret back story, reported to us by sources from the league office, on condition of anonymity, as to what happened that fateful night. The officials were told to make sure the Cavaliers didn’t win and embarrass the league. So the league’s on-court representatives, the officials, relied upon basically what they privately acknowledged were salacious and unverified assumptions, in the form of egregious decisions, a dossier you might call them, to instigate an investigation of the late game foul . The officials consulted with distant representatives in the league office. They took a long time, perplexing the international audience. They had a problem. They had to fix the game, but the last chance to overturn a Cavs victory was too obvious to get away with anything. After much frantic debate, they concocted a plan. They had to have an excuse, to disguise their conspiracy. So they deployed a rule so rare, it had only been mentioned a few times in the history of the league, and even then it was disputed. The officials would claim they weren’t sure of the players’ positioning, and when part of a play is reviewed, any irrelevant detail the officials determine is within the purview of their investigation becomes part of their purview . The disaster of a Golden State Warriors disappointment was averted. Anonymous government sources reported that Vladimir Putin is a devoted Golden State Warriors fan, and Russian agents posing as season ticket holders approached commissioner Adam Silver about a deal. Had the officials failed to determine the russian result, an “insurance policy” was discussed. We aren’t sure of the specifics, as it was never deployed. The league had Kompromat on the commissioner, including a picture of him wearing a GS Warriors jersey, although this picture has never been verified. The russian agents told league officials they were desperate to prevent the calamity of a Cleveland Cavaliers championship. This has been corroborated by several sources, but we must provide anonymity as their lives would be endangered if their identities were divulged. After all, a lot of money was bet on those games. Also, identifying them would hinder our reporting similar acccusato=ry stories. The league would tell you the commissioner and the officials would never allow their personal biases or external threats to interfere with the adjudication of an American tradition, integral to the trust of the american sports public. Many are skeptical of this story, and to them we can only offer these are only allegations, and leave the NBA to disprove them. As astute commenters have noticed, the election talk indicates the burden of proof in american public discussion has shifted to the accused having to disprove accusations, instead of the accuser proving them.
By the by, all of this is more plausible than Hillary’s song.
Photograph: Russian President Vladimir Putin watches a Euroleague basketball game.