Monday, June 22, 2009

Conspiracy Theory? Maybe...

I remember it pretty vividly... was 1994, the Bulls were playing their first of two seasons without Michael Jordan, the two seasons that make up the filler for the Bulls 3-peat sandwich in the 1990s. It was game 5 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals, this was to be Scottie Pippen's coming out party, the year in which he stepped up to become Batman instead of his usual role as Robin to Jordan's Batman. The Bulls were up with no time remaining late in the game. The defense was well-planned and fierce, preventing John Starks from driving the corner for another "poster dunk". Starks passed off to Hubert Davis at the top of the key, Pippen moved from the middle of the lane. Davis raised up for a jump shot, released the ball and as the ball rattled off the rim, Pippen brushed by Davis, a defensive occurrence that is as regular as the shots themselves. The Bulls were about to win Game 5, but...was that a whistle? Yes, a whistle it was, and an awfully late whistle at that. Hue Hollins had called Pippen for a foul...hacking is the technical term, though an actual hack it was far from. A caress, perhaps, but even calling it a high five was a stretch. Hubert went to the foul line, sunk two shots, and the Knicks won Game 5, eventually defeating the Bulls in seven and going on to lose to the Houston Rockets in the NBA Finals.

Was it a foul? Technically, yes, it was a foul...Scottie had made contact with the shooter, contact initiated by Pippen while the shooter was in the act of shooting. See, therein lies the problem that I have always had with the NBA, and one which makes the league constantly smack with conspiracy theories...there is too much judgement allowed by the officials to render the game without bias. Did the league want to see the Knicks make it to the Finals? Why not? The Bulls were missing their superstar...their marquee draw in Jordan, and the Knicks play in the largest city and media market in the country. The Bulls were tough to some degree, but the Knicks were tougher. Could one assume the better match up for the networks was Ewing vs. Olajawon...big Mano v. big Mano? I think one could assume that.

Do I think there exist conspiracies that control the outcome of NBA games? I will, with some trepidation, say no. I will suggest however that on more than one occasion, in fact, with some regularity I have personally witnessed horrendously inconsistent calls by NBA officials, and indeed, sometimes even coaches, that have affected the momentum of the game, and even for some short period of time, swung the advantage over to one side...often the side of the more famous team or player.

And what was Jordan doing out of the NBA anyway? Making a serious run at becoming a baseball player? A golfer? Please...he was terrible. Didn't he have some ridiculous gambling debts? Wasn't his father murdered in cold blood while resting at a roadside stop? I am not suggesting that this was all connected, and I am certainly not suggesting that Michael Jordan had any direct involvement in his father's murder...but you can understand why more information was desired by the public, right?

So, am I a conspiracy theorist? Well, no...not exactly. I think that generally things that happen, happen the way they do because of an individual's or a team's proficiency at what they do...along with a little bit of fortune to make sure their talents are the key component of the outcome. I will confidently suggest however, that there are A LOT of people in the world, and a good number of them suffer from greed, a desire that if not controlled by checks and balances, can make people do some crazy ass things, and make groups do some things that are downright evil.

I believe that the assassination of John F. Kennedy was a part of a large conspiracy that may very well have involved some members of our federal government. Given just the last 15 or so years of government cheaters and frauds, are we supposed to be so daft as to believe that there is no way that some bad seeds in our own government could be capable of an act so despicable as that one was? Do those who deny the possibility of a conspiracy just oppose conspiracy theories in general, or do they truly believe that nobody in our huge 1960's Military-Industrial Complex shaped government could possibly have gotten together with a handful of other powerful people to make sure that Kennedy didn't make it through his term in office. If it is so easy to think that Lee Harvey Oswald acted on his own, then why not just open up the Warren Report to the public to let us decide what happened just like any other murder case through proper forensics and a true court of law? And why was Oswald shot only two days later before any trial could happen, and by a local strip club operator who, oh wow, was born and grew up a troubled youth in Chicago! Even as a proud Chicagoan I smell trouble there.

Look, all I am saying is that we need to stop blindly supporting the status quo, and sometimes question things further when we see or smell smoke. I completely understand that it is hard to admit when we support something so fervently, that it has gone bad, or that something has intentionally changed the course in "our" favor...but we can only grow as a community, really, a world community, when we recognize, and speak out when something just doesn't make any sense.

So, what do you think? Was it the official, or the defense who committed the foul? Penny for your thoughts...

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