National

Game that ref said was fixed recalled as filled with bad calls

LOS ANGELES — Scott Pollard, now with the Boston Celtics, was in the building that night, a witness to one of the worst-officiated games in NBA playoff history. No debate necessary. The box score — and the videotape — continues to expose the infamous Game 6.

But now, in a manner of speaking, so does Tim Donaghy, the disgraced referee who filed a letter in federal court in New York saying the Los Angeles Laker-Sacramento Kings matchup in 2002 was fixed.

The phantom fouls on Vlade Divac. The hasty calls on Pollard, then a King. The fourth quarter, that inexplicable fourth quarter, when both Sacramento centers fouled out and the Lakers were rewarded with a 27-9 free-throw advantage.

What about the possibility — per the Donaghy allegation — that the league leans on referees to extend series and enhance ratings? That in one of the most memorable matchups of the decade, the officials favored the Lakers to ensure a seventh-game conclusion at Arco Arena?

"It entered my mind," admitted Pollard, who is on the injured list but traveling with the Celtics. "I'm not saying he (Donaghy) is right, that the game was fixed. I don't have any proof. But one could make that argument. It kind of slapped us in the face, whoa, whoa. Our starters being in early foul trouble, Vlade and I both fouling out. Three technical fouls … ."

Fans howled. The national media ripped. The league winced. On behalf of consumers (and Kings fans), Ralph Nader demanded an investigation, and he effectively was dismissed as an attention-seeking former presidential candidate who messed up the 2000 presidential election for the Democrats. Yet here it is, almost six years later, almost one year after the Donaghy scandal broke.

For the record: I thought Game 6 was the poorest officiated playoff game I have seen in almost three decades of covering the NBA. Dick Bavetta, Ted Bernhardt and particularly Bob Delaney had a miserable night at the office. Later that evening, I applauded Rick Adelman, a notorious whiner, for praising his players and then immediately ripping into the officials for basically stealing his club's trip to the championship series.

Read the full story at sacbee.com.

Related stories from McClatchy DC

  Comments