By MICHAEL DAY
Tonight’s game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs promises to deliver a round of excitement to NBA fans across the world. Contrast the Thunder-Spurs series with the Raptors-Heat version and one wonders how both are considered the same product. (Sorry fans of the Raptors and Heat, but the basketball played in that series is practically unwatchable.) Is there a way to ensure that there is a Game Seven for OKC and the Spurs? You bet! The NBA has “fixed” games in the past, so why not now? It’s up to our friendly referees to slightly, ever so slightly, nudge the game to a Spurs victory.
We’ve all heard about the famous Chicago White Sox team that lost the 1919 World Series on purpose, right? The iconic line, “Say it Ain’t so, Joe?” ring any bells? Anyway, according to historians, there was a pre-determined signal to the gamblers that would let them know the players would follow through on their end of the deal. This signal was Eddie Cicotte’s second pitch in Game One of the series: the pitch drilled the batter in the back. Is there an NBA version of the “Cicotte Signal”? Well, sort of, except it isn’t a lone signal. Nah, it’s separate signals added together to produce one complex wave – this way, it’s much more discreet. Fortunately, for you, I’ll list them so you will know the real deal.
The star player somehow gets into early foul trouble.
The prime target here is Kevin Durant. The referees may not even have to look very hard to call early fouls on Durant – he’s committed some bad reach-in fouls in previous games. These will all get called in this game. Some might say, “Why not put Russell Westbrook in foul trouble?” Well, the strategy for Westbrook is next.
Normal fouls given to the offensive player driving to the basket will now not get called.
This is obviously for Russell Westbrook. Since Westbrook is way more effective driving to the basket, the referees will take this part of his game away, so they will not call the normal fouls that favor the offensive player. Ya know, the fouls where the offensive player clearly jumps into the chest of the defender and still get the call. I’ve always wondered what the preferred method is to defend this sort of move. Get out-of-the-way? Anyway, this should force Westbrook off his game, and make him take more jump shots.
The Referee who has a beef with either Durant, Westbrook, or Coach Billy Donovan will get assigned to this game.
No need to explain this one.
The “favored” team will shoot more free throws.
Any in-doubt call will go to the Spurs. They will get into the bonus early, so they can shoot more free throws. Any drive to the basket will yield more free throws. Tony Parker and Manu Giniboli, world-class floppers, will get every call. Kawhi Leonard will get every call. Lots and lots of free throws for the Spurs.
After the outcome is sealed, calls will finally start balance out.
This is done to throw off anyone who is watching the box score. It’s easy to cry, “Foul!” when the ending box score shows one team with 2-1 ratio at the free throw line, so the referees have to throw in a few make-up calls to fix the ratio a bit.
Hopefully, the signals are now easily recognized. Sorry OKC fans, but your Game Six loss is our gain. Don’t worry, though, Game Seven will feature a more non-bias approach; hopefully, OKC will deliver a win in San Antonio.