The National Basketball Association: Is it what it seems?

Considered the most prestigious basketball league on earth, the NBA has a certain appeal that other leagues lack. With its high level of play and stars that seem to do no wrong, how could it not? But is it possible that some of the best players and teams get a little help from the officials?

5 years ago, Tim Donaghy, a former ref for the NBA, was discovered to have been making bets on games that might have affected his decision making in calls. He denied his gambling to have affected his officiating, but was sent to court on charges of conspiracy to engage inwire fraud, and transmitting wagering information through interstate commerce. He was sentenced to 15 months in prison for betting on games that he reffed. His arrest unearthed a long debated topic about the NBA, it’s biased reffing, and slightly scripted feeling.

After his arrest Donaghy went public about his situation. He wrote a book, was on 60 minutes, and did multiple interviews with many radio stations. People wanted to know how was he so accurate in his bets? During the an investigation the FBI conducted, they discovered that out of the 100 games he bet on, he won a whopping 80% of his bets, a ridiculous percentage. To Donaghy however, it’s no surprise that he won so many bets. Donaghy had told the FBI, “You don’t realize how easy this was for me knowing what I know”.

In his book and his interviews, Donaghy explains how he could know the outcome of a game with the point spread, just by knowing who was officiating, and how crucial a game it was for either team. “I would call the referees the night of the game” he said. “I would pick their brain, and see if they had any vendettas against any player/coach/owner involved in the game that night, and based on the information, I could make a decision.”

During a YouTube interview, he stated, “I’m never going to say that the NBA is fixed, or that David Stern, NBA commissioner, is going to go out and completely screw teams but the way they program and train referees in meetings, it puts a team at an advantage or a disadvantage” He gives an example later on in the interview. “To use the Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Lakers as an example, the referees had talked about how important this game was to the Lakers. It’s a matter of them making the playoffs or not making the playoffs so if they are going to call a foul, they’re going to call them on the side of the Lakers because Houston’s already in, and if they make a call that ends up taking the Lakers out of the playoffs, there’s going to be big consequences due to fans. Not only for officials, but for the league losing millions of dollars because one of their main teams missed the playoffs.”

Donaghy gives another example of how the NBA is partially scripted in his book Personal Foul: A First-Person Account of the Scandal that Rocked the NBA, by talking about current NBA ref Dick Bavetta. Bavetta is known for usually officiating close games. If a team was being blown out, he would alter his officiating, and instruct the other refs to do so as well. “Lets not embarrass anyone,” he would say. Donaghy knows first hand, as Bavetta has given him these instructions in the past. He says that during conversations with him, Bavetta stated that he was the NBA’s “go to guy”. Whenever they wanted a game to be really close, or a playoff series to go the 7 games, just to entertain fans, he would assign Bavetta to the game with instructions on which team to favor. What makes the situation even fishier is that when Bavetta was investigated, he was forbidden by the NBA to speak publicly about the case.

In an interview on WEEI radio, Donaghy was asked to elaborate on how refs might favor stars. Donaghy explained how sometimes if there was a foul called that would put an all star in a troublesome situation, they would try to find a person who was not as important, (maybe an 8th man to a team), that might have been involved in the play and give them the foul.

It can’t be denied that Donaghy did the wrong thing. But maybe it was all for the better, as it unearthed a controversial topic that few people were aware of. Many people now believe that the NBA does have a scripted feeling to it. If you have ever watched an NBA game, there is never a single game where there is not at least a couple controversial calls. Even the announcers pick up on it when looking at the replay.

I think it is very low of the NBA and the officials to pull this kind of stunt. Basketball is not a show; it’s a sport that should be played with dignity, honesty, and pride. The good teams deserve the wins they get, and the bad teams deserve the losses. There should be no unnecessary interference from the league or from the officials just because they want to entertain the fans. It’s just not fair to the players. Whether an All-Star, or a bench warmer, each and everyone of those players worked their butt off to get to where they are today, and the fact that the NBA is turning them into a show instead of letting them just play basketball, is just an insult to their dedication. The NBA should let the players just play basketball, no biased reffing, no extending a series for entertainment, just play basketball like it was meant to be played. Not for the money, not for the fans, for the competition and for the sport.

Should Lebron Return to Cleveland?

On July 8, 2010 Lebron James’ notorious Espn television special “The Decision” had shocked the sports world as he left his hometown Cleveland and joined the Miami Heat. Lebron’s desire to win a championship was strong and that is why … Continue reading

History of Food: Pasta

The first form of food similar to pasta was in the writings of Horace where thin strips of dough were fried and served with spices in the 1st century B.C.E. A few centuries later, we see an ancient ancestor of modern day lasagna come out in the form of lagana. It was described to be consisted of sheets of dough with meat filling in between. In the second century, the dough started to be made with flour and water instead of juice from lettuce. Later, Arabs adopted a similar form of noodle in the 5th century and lead to the Italians making thin strip noodle pasta.

 

If we jump to the 15th century, dried pasta was very valued because it could be stored for very long periods of time.That’s why many exploring ships brought dried pasta to the New World. Believe it or not, tomato sauce was only invented in the 18th century! Before this, people would just eat pasta with their hands. Now, people eat it with forks because the tomato would get too messy without it.

 

Today, the average Italian eats about sixty pounds of pasta per year, while the average American eats about twenty pounds of pasta per year. Writings suggest it originated in Italy, but why is it popular in North America? It’s because Italian immigration to the Americas that we love pasta so much. Italians have also had a mass immigration to South Africa, making spaghetti and meatballs a major part of Italian cuisine.

 

Do you like pasta? How do you eat yours? Comment, if you want, I guess.

 

Memphis Grizzlies: Most Underrated Team in the NBA

Memphis Grizzlies

photo credits: Sean Davis

The Memphis Grizzlies have been counted out since the beginning of the year and now they are in the Western conference finals trying to take down the San Antonio Spurs. Throughout the year the Grizzlies have been looked down upon and not taken seriously at all. They have stayed steady throughout the year and didn’t really prove to be a playoff team until they traded their best player, Rudy Gay to the Toronto Raptors. After Gay was gone, the Grizzlies were counted out as any sort of contender in the playoffs if they weren’t already. Some people may say that the Grizzlies haven’t done better without Rudy. Before the trade deadline (with Gay) the Grizzlies were 29-16. After his departure, in exchange for Tyshaun Prince and Austin Daye the Grizzlies went 27-10 winning a higher percentage of their games without Gay. Overall, the team is better rounded and have shown having a superstar doesn’t always make you better. I’ll tell you why, Rudy Gay is a player who needs the ball. When he needs the ball to be effective that takes it away from Zach Randolph, Mike Conley, and Tony Allen. This interrupts the offense not getting the ball moved, or rotated enough , which in certain situations can really damage a team. The Grizzlies are an underrated team that has shocked the country. Their momentum in the playoffs can only lead me to believe they will win the series. Both previous series the Grizzlies have started the series off poorly. Against the Los Angeles Clippers they lost the first two games by a combined 23 points and after that swept the Clippers right out of LA. In series 2 the Grizzlies lost the first game to the Oklahoma City Thunder and then won the next four games to take the series. Now, the Memphis Grizzlies are down two games to none and the question that is asked is “What will happen next?”

Rondoless

Rondo Explosion

photo credits: Dustin Carbonera

The will to win, desire, perseverance, passion, toughness, a celtic. Not many people can point to themselves and say “I am all of those things.” Although there is one group of guys that can, the Boston Celtics. The Celtics are a team that live for the playoffs. Unfortunately, this year that did not work in their favor. There are many things you could blame for why the celtics lost. I personally think that the reason the celtics had such a hard time in the playoffs and lost to the New York Knicks is because their leader, their coach on the floor, their point guard, Rajon Rondo went down with a season ending injury mid year. Rajon Rondo is the heart of the Boston Celtics team. The 6 foot floor general is the leader of the team, just like a military general. Rondo’s job is to make sure everyone is doing their role. If the are not doing their job it looks bad on him. He quarterbacks the team distributing the ball and is the main decision maker on the team. Yes, Doc Rivers ultimately has the overall power, but the ball is in Rajon’s hands. What he does with the ball is his decision. Rondo leads the team in battle and is looked to in time of despair. You can only imagine how that can affect the Celtics’ organization on a whole. When your point guard who calls the shots and has the ball in his hands 75% of the time is out for the season chaos erupts. Its like a football team with no quarterback, or a country with no government, life changes. Life most certainly did change for the Celtics. Although, the statistics do not show it. Before Rondo got hurt the Celtics record was 23-20. The Celtics scored an average of 95 points per game and 23 assists per game. They were averaging 14 turnovers a game as well. Now, those numbers are not terrific. Which is surprising, especially the 14 turnover statistic considering Rajon’s assist to turnover ratio is 3.3. After Rondo was declared out for the season, the Celtics’ record was 21-17. Boston averaged 98.2 points per game (3.2 points higher than with Rondo) and 22.4 assists per game. The number of turnovers dropped by a slight 0.2 turnovers a game also. Overall, looking at these numbers it seems like the celtics did better without Rondo right? Wrong. Statistics are just numbers, you can’t define a point guard by their stats otherwise you would not know if you are getting a point guard with true leader qualities. In Rondo’s argument, the Celtics’ as a team have had more success with him in their lineup as starting point guard. Rajon Rondo is a true celtic, without him the Boston Celtics’ are missing a part of their family, their point guard.

Blowout in South Beach

8291848680_bdd70639d4_bYesterday’s blowout playoff game between the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls had to of been the most physical games in history. There is definitely a rivalry and history between these teams. The Bulls are typically a very tough, physical team based around defense. The Heat on the other hand are based on offense and not as physical as the Bulls. The better team here is obviously Miami, but the Bulls keep getting under their skin and Miami is losing their minds. The referees last night had to break up a fight what seemed like every time down the court. These NBA players are supposed to be role models and when kids see them fighting and swearing they are just going to repeat what their role models do.

There was a total of 51 personal fouls in the game. There was a total of 9 technical fouls in the game and one flagrant foul. Two people on the Bulls got ejected too, Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson. As you can see this was a very physical game. Both the Bulls and the Heat need to stop fighting and just play the game. Especially the Bulls, they get under the Heats skin and then they are the ones who have people get ejected. In the first half it was a close game because the Heat were not focused they were too busy fighting.

Once the second half started it looked like the Bulls did not know what hit them. LeBron James scored 19 points in the first half and 0 in the second half because he was making everyone else on his team look good. Ray Allen and Norris Cole took over the game during the second half. Ray had a couple 3-pointers and (and 1’s). Norris had a couple big 3-pointers also. The Heat ended up beating the Bulls 115-78, the worst loss by the Bulls in playoff history. The Heat out rebounded the Bulls 41 to 28 and the Heat had 20 fast break points while the Bulls had 2. Miami scored 56 points in the paint and the Bulls scored 18. Miami’s biggest lead in the game was 46 points. That is what I call a blowout.

Mile High Injury List

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taken by Matthew D. Britt

This season the Denver Nuggets are the 3rd on the power rank going into the playoffs. You could say that they are on a bad luck streak. Their lead scorer Ty Lawson is just coming off of an injury and he missed eight of Denver’s last nine games. He has a torn right plantar fascia in his right heel. Last week the Nuggets announced that Danilo Gallinari there starting small forward tore his ACL. There other injury is on there starting power forward Kenneth Faried with a sprained ankle.

Denver is a very good team when they are healthy and very fun to watch. They throw down amazing dunks and alley oops almost every game. I don’t see Denver going very far in the playoffs because they are not healthy enough to play against the big elite teams. They also do not have that one clutch shooter to take the ball in the last few minutes of the game and to take the last shot for the win. If they had nobody hurt then its a different story, I think they can go all the way to the championship with everyone healthy.

Denver is one of my favorite teams in the league and I think next year will be their lucky year. When they get all their guys back they will be good. Denver has done a great job recovering after the trade of their best play Carmelo Anthony a few seasons ago. They really built their team up very quickly to a championship caliber team. Good luck to the Nuggets in the playoffs.

Five Ways The Miami Heat Beat You

It is almost playoff time in the NBA. For basketball fans, it is the best time of the year. You never know who will make a run, and who will become a legend in NBA history. Every team has a chance in the playoffs. But there is always a team that seems unbeatable in a seven game series. This year it is the Heat. After a bad loss to the Pacers in early February, it looked like the Heat were easily beatable. They then went on to win 27 straight games, manhandling some of the best teams in the league. How can they possibly be so good night in and night out? Here are 5 ways they beat you.

 1. Three point shooting

The Heat were one of the best shooting teams in the league last year, and they have become twice as good this year. With the edition of the greatest three point shooter of all time, Ray Allen, and even better shooting from Lebron and Norris Cole, teams are forced to play tight defense on the heat. If you don’t, you kiss any chance of a win goodbye. When you do play tight D, they just let Lebron and Wade beat you to the basket.

2. Unselfishness

When you watch the Heat play consistently, you notice something every game. Almost every shot the Heat take is a good look. All of the players are willing to make that extra pass to get the best look possible. It is even more impressive when you consider the especially good shooting they have. This unselfishness is priceless when it comes down to a game seven in the playoffs.

 3. Coaching

When the Heat lost to the Mavericks in the 2011 Finals, the coaching staff sat down and decided they needed to change their offense. With all the skill Miami has, they cannot afford to play like the rest of the league. The Heat incorporated a post offense for Lebron and Wade, opposed to leaving them on the perimeter, and it has paid dividends for them. Once they get going, they can just kick it out to their three point shooters. It is simple, but efficient.

4. Defense

The edition of Chris “Birdman” Andersen has really improved a good defense to a great defense. Lebron and Wade both are very strong forces on defense, but the Heat were lacking a strong piece to stick in the game for 15 minutes a night to help down low. Andersen has provided that, and now players are finding it even harder to get past the red hot Heat with the Bird standing in the middle.

 5. Lebron James

Lebron is Lebron. There is nothing to describe the level that he is playing at right now. Teams used to play off of him and let him beat them with his shooting. Now he can actually shoot the ball. When you play up on him, he explodes to the basket and finishes with a layup or a dunk. When you play off of him, he just hits the jumper in your face. He used to be made fun of for not being able to finish in the clutch. Now it has become his trademark. He is “Jordanesc”.


With these 5 things going for them, the Heat are the best team in the league.