Well, clearly Basketbawful is upset about the current state of the League of Extraordinary Non-Gentlemen. He is so upset and disappointed, in fact, that he would much rather talk about bubble gum, shooting sleeves, and plyometric devices than about how angry and upset he is about the Tim Donaghy scandal. I appreciate his point of view, and am saddened that he is so depressed by this development.

So I am here to present the Flip Side... and perhaps in the process make Basketbawful feel a little better about the state of our world.

To some, my "Flip Side" point of view is a tad off (specifically, see my borderline psychotic "Flip Side of being Tony Parker" rant in June - I think I was on mushrooms at the time). But some, if they look deep enough, will realize that I speak the pure, unfiltered truth. Let's begin:

Good Thing 1: This scandal is good for the NBA

Huh? What did he say? Is this guy nuts???

Look, I, Evil Ted, don't have the pressure of churning out daily material on this subject, so rather than first asserting that "This will be terrible for the league for years to come," and then slowly working my way over time into "Well, I guess it wasn't so bad for the league" and finally admitting a year from now that "Huh, maybe it was actually good for the league," I can just come out and say now that it will be good for the league.


It will be tougher for future officials to pull this kind of crap, because the league will learn where and how Donaghy slipped through the cracks, and better prevent future problems. Are there guarantees? No, there are no guarantees of anything, anywhere. There are only levels of awareness, and the NBA Gambling Threat Level has gone from blue to orange. I don't know exactly what orange means, but let me assure you it means there are K-9 units, FBI agents, and slam-dunking mascots scrambling around the globe.

Good Thing 2: David Stern Actually Appears to have a Clue

I listened to and read David Stern's press conference from beginning to end, fully prepared to hate everything he had to say and think he was an ignoramus. Yet, miraculously, he somewhat impressed me. Oh sure, his drab monotone and hangdog demeanor were thoroughly uninspiring, and I still despise his lottery system, but damn if he didn't say all the right things (most of the time):

Excerpts from Stern's Press Conference:

"...We educate our referees intensely. We have training camp presentations, we have brochures..."

Oh, you have brochures, David? Nobody's ever ignored a brochure. This was the weakest point, but was followed by Stern discussing the security precautions, former FBI agent led police teams, and background checks that have been going on with officials for some time. Good, good, and good.

"...In addition to [background and security checks / FBI led security teams]...we have for many years retained a consultant in Las Vegas whose job it is to inform us ...[of]...unusual movements in betting on the NBA... we're also in contact with the Nevada Gaming Board who monitors...anything that we should be concerned about...."

Getting all Ocean's Thirteen on my ass, David? Impressive. Color me impressed. And the Vegas odds that I was going to be impressed? 72 to 1. Ok, that's all good, David, but what about the bad calls that have been going on throughout the league. Have you been doing anything about that? Hmmm? Have ya?

"...Since the beginning of 2003-2004, [we have] been implementing a system that is designed to capture every call that a referee makes, and every non call that is deemed by observers to be incorrect...We have retained 30 observers, one at each of our team's games. They are in effect charting the game with respect to the calls and other observations that they make. They then review the game on tape. They then are audited, not every game, but selectively audited by the group supervisors that we have employed by the NBA."

Independent auditors checking the calls AND non-calls? Now you're getting my attention. Apparently, you do have a clue ... and here I was thinking you a complete moron. Color me still impressed. Next you're going to tell me you audit the auditors.

"And then most recently this year, we actually...do an audit on the auditors and satisfy ourselves [of] accuracy..."

GET THE FUCK OUT! This may the most soundly conceived "Cover your ass" policy ever. Why isn't this guy running homeland security? Even if you hate him, you have to admit, Stern appears to have covered his bases here. As much as I wanted to rip into Stern, I rarely found the chance. I was waiting for him to make some revelation, to admit to some bad judgment on his part that would eventually be revealed, and yet there seemed to be nothing. Now, I'm not about to get all lovey-dovey here. This was still a one-sided, heavily prepared, orchestrated press conference, but still, there were no glaring issues to have with Stern here.

And further, Stern and the league seemed to handle things well when Donaghy had a legal dispute with his neighbor in Pennsylvania. Based solely on the fact that Donaghy had an "ongoing legal dispute with his neighbors," (gambling at that point was alleged but unproven and therefore not at issue), Stern indicated that the legal trouble was "not the kind of conduct that we expected from our referees" and proceeded to pull him from working the second round of the playoffs in 2005. Strict disciplinarians might think this lame, but cynics, like myself, would have expected the NBA to sweep situations like that under the rug without a thought. They didn't.

OK, enough David Stern love. The full conference is at the link above. I suggest everyone give it a listen.

Good Thing 3: It's not a Conspiracy

By all indications thus far, this was one man doing stupid illegal things. If it proves out that this involved multiple people at different levels of the NBA, then you've got a REAL problem, and only then can we start talking about "the future of the League." Right now, the league is just fine. All Donaghy has proven is something we already knew; no matter how much security, background checking, and policing you do, you can never guarantee that a bad apple won't get into your organization.

Good Thing 4: When you think about it, it's kinda funny

As I stated in a past post, a dirty ref fit right in with the clean ones for two years. You could cut the irony with a knife. Let's forget about Donaghy - the courts and the Mob will handle his sorry ass...it's time to figure out why the other refs stink so bad...

At the very least, this scandal has forced Stern to discuss an audit system I never knew existed. It means he's paying attention, and it's almost as good as an outright admission from Stern that he realizes there's an officiating problem - Halleluia! Of course, this works out brilliantly for Stern - now he can blame bad officiating on his auditors.

And speaking of scapegoats...

Good Thing 5: The NBA gets its scapegoat

Now all the bad officiating of the past gets a face: Tim Donaghy. The NBA isn't tainted for 2008. On the contrary, it gets a fresh, clean slate. It has purged a cancer, and has a chance to make the Donaghy disaster the impetus for a better officiated league (a worse officiated league seems, frankly, inconceivable).

Good thing 6: People have short memories

I don't remember what I ate for breakfast. By the beginning of next season, the Donaghy situation will be worth a Charles Barkley two-minute rant, and we'll move on and enjoy watching basketball like we have forever.

Good Thing 7: A new Basketbawful term

Once Basketbawful manages to lift out of his doldrums, I suspect one of his first "Word of the Day" entries will be "Pulling a Donaghy" - a synonym for officiating so bad that it smells crooked. In the slammer, of course, "Pulling a Donaghy" will have an entirely different, disturbingly obscene meaning. Leave the soap on the prison house floor, Tim - I wouldn't be surprised if a former NBA player or two is rotting in the same big house, just waiting to reciprocate on a "flagrant foul" call you made in 2004.

Good Thing 8: Football season is coming

And Basketbawful's beloved Colts will be looking to defend their title. Just to make him feel better, I won't even mention of my Pats and their nicely revamped receiving corps.

Oops, just did.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...
I still haven't forgiven Basketbawful for his comments about the Patriots after last season's AFC Championship Game.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
"Leave the soap on the prison house floor, Tim - I wouldn't be surprised if a former NBA player or two is rotting in the same big house, just waiting to reciprocate on a "flagrant foul" call you made in 2004."

Shawn Kemp?!

/I was originally going to make a Jayson Williams joke, but just remembered that he retired like for years before that. Damnit.

Blogger Evil Ted said...
It's OK, Sean, as long as either the Pats or Colts wins the Championship, the legend of the rivalry grows, and I'm cool with that.

So I don't mind which team wins it all, as long as it's the Patriots.

Josh, you picked out my favorite line in the post...thanks.

Other thoughts:

Were the NBA refs, prior to Stern's press conference, aware that an auditor system was in place? Well, they do now. Dare I hope to expect better officiating next year?

On second thought: The league officiating has been so horrific for so long, I'm not even certain that any given NBA ref, fully aware of league oversight and doing his very best, even knows what good officiating is. Sorry Basketbawful, I'm supposed to be waxing non-cynical...

The Gauntlet: Memo to NBA refs - prove me wrong. I would like nothing better than to issue a formal apology to the entire lot of you in one year's time.