www.herald-journal.com
Maybe the NBA should be rigged

June 23, 2008

by Stephen Wiblemo

Wow.

That was all I had to say last Wednesday morning when I saw the final score of Game 6 of the NBA finals.
131-92.

The Celtics punished Kobe Bryant and the Lakers with a 39-point disgrace, completely erasing any respectable memory I had of LA throughout the first five games.

So what if LA came back from being behind 26 points to win Game 5. It didn’t matter after they lost it all by a humiliating 39 points.

The monumental loss set a new NBA record for the largest margin of victory in a championship-clinching game. So, essentially, this Lakers team could also go down as the biggest group of choke artists in NBA history.

At the beginning of the series, I had the Celtics picked to win it all, even though I don’t watch much NBA. After the first two games, I think even Jack Nicholson would have agreed with me.

Here is the problem I have with professional basketball — it’s boring.

I realize that is a little hypocritical of a baseball fan to say, but the recent drop in NBA viewers supports my theory. Even the Timberwolves struggled getting people to attend, and I consider Minnesota a state that strongly supports its teams.

Interest in the NBA has gotten so low that some people have actually come up with a theory that the finals between Boston and LA were actually rigged to draw attention back.

Think about it. An old rivalry rekindled by two teams that nobody would have guessed would be in the championship.

At the beginning of the season, Lakers superstar Bryant was asking to be traded, while the Celtics were hoping to improve their dismal 24-58 record from last year.

It all made for great drama and could have been the rebirth of the NBA — until Game 6.

The problem with that theory, however, is that if it was rigged, the finale would have been better than the debaucle that actually played out.

I think if the NBA really wants to attract interest, they should start rigging their matches, like “professional” wrestling.

The NBA is full of huge freaks like wrestling. Yao Ming could have a name like “the Asian Sensation.” Shaq, of course, would be called “Kazaam” and would wear his costume from the movie.

“Sir” Charles Barkley would replace Jerry “the King” Lawler and “Wild-Eyes” Stuart Scott would be the new “Mean Gene” Okerlund.

Hecklers would be planted in the stands on a regular basis for players to pound on for the delight of viewers at home.

They could even hide chairs and other foreign objects under the score table and baskets for players to use.

Here is an example of what my version of the NBA would be like.

During Game 1, when Paul Pierce made his dramatic return to the game after leaving due to an apparent knee injury, I would have done it differently.

Rather than have him come running out, I would have had the lights in the entire building go out. Then, a giant strobe light would come on and show Pierce soaring down from the ceiling and gracefully landing on the parquet floor of Boston Garden — his new name, “Paul-bearer” Pierce.

Yes, this would be an interesting twist on a slumping sport that is desperate for more viewers.

Sort of like a cross between the Harlem Globetrotters and World Wrestling Entertainment.

Unfortunately, I don’t think commissioner David Stern has reached this point of desperation yet.

Sorry “Rowdy” Ron Artest, our vision will have to wait.