Sunday, May 11, 2008

NBA Investigating Alleged Road Victory

Last season, the San Antonio – Phoenix playoff series was marred by the suspensions of Amare Stoudemire and Boris Diaw for leaving the bench. This year, controversy has once again struck the second round of the NBA postseason. The league office is looking into allegations that the Detroit Pistons won Game 4 of their series with the Orlando Magic, despite playing on the road.

If true, that victory would be the only one for a visitor in the second round. Home teams are 14-0 in the other contests. According to a league insider, commissioner David Stern reached an agreement with the remaining participants that only home teams would win in the second round. Reportedly, Stern considered the arrangement to be fan-friendly, since witnessing a victory would boost the home fans’ enjoyment of games. Higher television ratings would also ensue, as every series would have a Game 7. The source indicated that the commissioner also wants the agreement in place for the conference finals, thereby guaranteeing a finals matchup between top seeds Boston and Los Angeles. The NBA official remarked that such a scenario had Stern “giggling like a schoolgirl.”

However, a report surfaced on Saturday that Detroit had left Orlando with a 90-89 victory. A 15-point third quarter lead, plus the absence of injured Piston Chauncey Billups, would seem to point to a win for the Magic. Nevertheless, the league office has reportedly received a tape which shows Tayshaun Prince making the game-winning basket for Detroit. Officials are unsure about the authenticity of the tape, since it only shows Dwight Howard scoring eight points in the entire contest. A second tape was reportedly discarded as irrelevant, because all it showed was a pre-Super Bowl walk-through by the St. Louis Rams.

No such controversy exists in the other series, in which the visitors have gone down to defeat every time. Some extraordinary circumstances have arisen amid the home dominance. The experienced, poised Spurs were pummeled in their two games at New Orleans. In Boston, the Celtics made LeBron James even less comfortable than he was hosting Saturday Night Live. And the Utah crowd mercilessly booed a guy who gave up millions in the interest of better care for his disease-stricken daughter. On the other hand, he does play for the Lakers.

If the NBA believes the Pistons’ violation to be true, there is no word on what the punishment will be. A simple remedy could be a Game 5 victory in Detroit for the Magic – the first time a make-up call would ever take place in the NBA. Reached for comment on potential sanctions, Rasheed Wallace remarked, “Being disciplined by the league office? I can’t imagine such an experience!” Then he hugged the reporters and took them out for pizza. Asked for his thoughts, another Piston responded, “I’ll say something, but only with half my face, if you can match it with half a face from the Magic. I love those commercials!”

The NBA is not the only league in which the home team is dominating these days. The visiting Sharks and Flyers are 0-for-4 in the NHL conference finals. However, that scenario is almost certainly not the result of an arrangement with commissioner Gary Bettman. He knows there’s no way he can boost ratings.