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Something's fishy in the finals
NBA on the verge of its 2nd straight dubious champion

by Berry Tramel Modified: June 9, 2007 at 6:56 am •  Published: June 9, 2007
LeBron James already has done the NBA a big solid. His Game 5 performance against Detroit shifted the NBA playoff spotlight to Lake Erie; LeBron, and not the missing Phoenix Suns, is the talk of the Finals.

Which is a major blessing in the wake of the Phoenix Sun suspensions. And it won't last long unless LeBron can produce again and lift the Clevelands to a big upset of San Antonio.

If the Spurs beat the Cavaliers, and they easily will if Game 1's rout is any indication, the NBA will be saddled with its second straight dubious champ. Some would call it tainted; I might go so far as illegitimate.

Miami's triumph in the 2007 NBA Finals raised eyebrows in and out of the league. Conspiracy theorists decreed that maverick Mavericks owner Mark Cuban got his comeuppance from commissioner David Stern. Even some reputable people within the league shook their head.

NBA officiating mostly rates between superb and fantastic. But in the Dallas-Miami series, the whistle blew every 14 seconds, in favor of Heat phenom Dwyane Wade. Entering those Finals, Wade had averaged 10.7 foul shots per game that season and 8.3 foul shots per game in his playoff career. In those Finals, Wade averaged 16.2 foul shots a game. He was given 25 and 21 foul shots the final two games.

I don't believe the NBA rigged the Mavs-Heat series. But people, reasonable people, questioned the one-sided whistles and still are pondering.

Now comes these Finals, which will have a questionable champ unless Sir LeBron rallies Cleveland.

Would the Spurs have beaten the Suns had Amare Stoudemire and Boris Diaw not been suspended for a game? We'll never know.

Did the NBA follow the letter of the law when Stoudemire and Diaw were suspended after instinctively sprinting onto the court when the Spurs' Robert Horry body blocked their little leader, Steve Nash, into the boards.

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by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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Game 2: Cleveland at San Antonio
•When: 8 p.m. Sunday

•Where: AT&T Center, San Antonio

•TV: KOCO-5 (Cox 8)

•Series: San Antonio leads best-of-seven series 1-0.

•On Page 3C: The Hornets held more pre-draft workouts, bringing in Georgia Tech's Thaddeus Young.


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