The NBA’s Integrity And Trust Problem Bites It In The Finals

NBA_2015_Finals_Game6

I don’t watch the NBA any more. The reason is that the games are so obviously subject to manipulation by bias that it is, well, not quite as dubious for legitimate sport as professional wrestling, but still too much so to be worth my time…or yours, frankly, but people spend time cheering for pro wrestlers too.

The problem is the referees, who have so much discretion in calling fouls that they can make the game turn out any way they choose. The fact that the NBA has such a huge home court advantage despite the fact that all courts are the same is also suspicious. Baseball, in contrast, with fields that vary materially in size and dimensions, has a very small home team edge. Biases, intentional or subconscious, control pro basketball, accounting for oddly frequent games decided in the last ten minutes, a propensity for allowing superstars to get away with infractions that lesser players do not, and seven game play-off series.

Sorry, I don’t like being a patsy, so I refuse to care.

There’s going to be a huge Game 7 of the NBA Finals  on ABC Sunday, because the underdog Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Golden State Warriors and denied them the NBA  Championship for the second straight game last Thursday night. Game Six’s exciting finish was greatly affected by the fact that Warriors uber-star  Steph Curry got ejected in the closing minutes of play after receiving a technical foul. Ayesha Curry, his wife, alleged a different kind of foul, tweeting…

ayesha-curry-tweet

Lots of other fans came to the same conclusion, though Ayesha was quickly informed by the league that they knew where her mother lived, or something, and she deleted the tweet.  Warriors’ head coach Steve Kerr wrote after the loss, “He gets six fouls on him; three were absolutely ridiculous.” Kerr knows that referees will usually move heaven and earth not to let a superstar foul out in regulation of a play-off game…unless, perhaps, there’s a good reason to let it happen. Continue reading

“Ick” Or Unethical: The NBA Decides To Let Its Players Be Human Billboards

Classy. I can't wait.

Classy. I can’t wait.

News Item, from ESPN:

The NBA announced… that the board of governors has approved a three-year pilot program to allow teams to sell a corporate logo on their jerseys.

Teams can now start pitching companies on buying a 2.5-inch-by-2.5-inch space as the NBA becomes the first of the four major U.S. sports leagues to put ads on regular game-day jerseys. In an era when virtually every facet of the sports experience is advertised or sponsored, the uniform had been the last ad-free haven.

The first season of the program will be in 2017-18…

“It’s my hope, independent of whatever additional revenues are generated through this patch program, that the greatest impact will be in this amplifying effect of companies choosing to associate directly with a team jersey, then going out and promoting that relationship to the largest market,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said.

Silver said the league had calculated that the program will be worth about $100 million a year.

Well, ick.

It’s not bad enough that a city’s sports teams have to play in arenas and stadiums named after pet food retailers, banks, car insurance companies and fraudulent corporations rather than local landmarks and community heroes. Now our kids’ heroes will be branded with commerce too…not literally, of course. Not yet.

The NBA has always been the crassest of the major league sports, so the identity of the first league to break one of the last barriers of money-grubbing indignity was preordained. Most of the NBA’s fans, who already don’t mind that the league corrupts college sports and glorifies men who collect illegitimate children the way normal people collect matchbooks, don’t care, so this was not a hard call for the NBA, I would guess.

It’s gross, but is anything wrong with it? After all, NBA players already accept money to put their names on products. It isn’t as if they have an aura of purity about them, and their obvious venality pales in the shadow of game-winning three-pointers and spectacular dunks. What ethical principle is being violated by the NBA turning its players into walking, jumping, shooting billboards? Continue reading

The O’Bannon Case: A Judge Explains How The Law Requires An Unethical and Corrupt Practice To Be Fair….But It’s Still Unethical and Corrupt

NCAA-ban

Now that a federal judge has declared the elite student-athletes at big time sports colleges to be what they are…paid mercenaries…and the sports programs at such institutions to be what we always knew they were…cynical sideshows that sacrificed education to greed…will the pubic, the media, educators, and universities now stop this slow-moving ethics train wreck?

Of course not.  If they cared about how high-profile college sports were warping both America’s education and its values, they would have addressed the problem decades ago. They would have stopped it before, for example, schools started paying football and basketball coaches more than any professor. They would have stopped it before prestigious schools gave degrees to graduates whose entire education was a sham, who took ridiculously easy courses and who were held to infantile academic standards, all so rich, fat alumni would continue writing checks. They would have stopped it before a revered football coach held such power in a university that he was able to persuade the school’s leadership to allow a child sexual predator operate on campus.

U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken, in a 99-page ruling agreeing with the claim of a group of plaintiffs fronted by former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon, issued an injunction against the NCAA from “enforcing any rules or bylaws that would prohibit its member schools and conferences from offering their FBS football or Division I basketball recruits a limited share of the revenues generated from the use of their names, images, and likenesses in addition to a full grant-in-aid.”

The ruling will be appealed, and some of its legal conclusions certainly seem debatable. That is not my concern. The opinion effectively kills the fiction that the semi-literate youths who perform on-the-field heroics to burnish the images of universities and attract huge broadcast fees are what the NCAA, alumni, students , the schools and the media pretend that they are. Now that we know they are not truly students, what persuasive ethical justifications can be given for them to play college sports at all?

My answer?

None. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: NBA Coach Jason Kidd

"Clean up on Court One!"

“Clean up on Court One!”

Needing a time out with his team trailing in a close NBA game with the L.A. Lakers, Brooklyn Nets coach Jason Kidd used a trick he had apparently learned as a player at the knee of another cheating coach. Kidd “accidentally on purpose” spilled his cup of Coke on the basketball court. Naturally, play had to be halted so the mess could be mopped up, giving Kidd that time-out he needed to set up the next play. (His Nets lost anyway. Good.)

Later, Kidd insisted that his spill was accidental.  “Cup slipped out of my hand I was getting Ty,” Kidd told reporters. “Sweaty palms. I was never good with the ball. In the heat of the battle, you’re trying to get guys in and out of the game, and the cup fell out of my hand.” Then video showed Kidd telling a player, “Hit me!” to force the spill. That sparked a $50,000 fine from the NBA, but no acknowledgment of wrongdoing by the coach. Later he admitted that he “probably” shouldn’t have done it, “it” being “cheating,” but that he was just trying to win the game. “It’s about trying to win and those guys in that locker room, and I tried to put those guys in a position to get a basket, a good look and we did,” he said. Continue reading