Stephen A's recent offering in ESPN The Mag drives home a powerful point. A point that has been lost, or at least misplaced, during this whole Tim Donaghy fiasco.
It's bad enough that a pathetic, disgraced felon like Tim Donaghy would stain the Finals with allegations that the fix was in on two playoff games in the past. But what really struck me is how fans and the media are so quick to believe the worst about the NBA and obsess over it.
Certainly, while we agree with the sentiment that Donaghy's timing and motives are questionable; we can't say it is overly unexpected that the media has picked up the story with such verve. Or that fans are willing to look back at those specific games and kind of say, "I knew it."
Sports fans are gossip hounds. Sports fans relish in controversies, drama and conspiracies.
Nothing terribly upsetting or questionable here.
"If this were happening in the NFL, where players hide their faces behind helmets, or in baseball—and let's be real, it isn't called America's pastime for nothing—the rogue accuser would be an afterthought the moment the games began."
Just ask Matt Walsh. He could hardly get any media, fan or league attention when he insinuated that he had proof the Patriots taped other teams practices. Image the lack of attention a whistle blower involved in fixing games would get.
Or in baseball. Steroid issues were so mundane and trivial that they were pushed off to be handled by a Congressional investigation. Again, imagine if a whistle blower involved in fixing games ever piped up about it. What would baseball do, demand the President himself get involved? Talk about an afterthought.
But even though Donaghy is white, the NBA always loses the benefit of the doubt in the court of public opinion because pro basketball is a sport dominated like no other by African-Americans.
Indeed. One would assume that Donaghy's light hue would mean that the NBA would get the benefit of the doubt. Just when we think we have this racism thing figured out, they go and change it up on us!
And now, because of Donaghy's cheating, and because of his snitching on others, the league suffers.
Corrupt referees attempting to alter the outcomes of games for personal gain certainly reflects poorly on the players. And, it's only natural that if one of the 'fixers' is white, that the fans and media would immediately transfer skepticism about outcomes to the Negro players. Regardless of whether there has been any insinuation that players have been involved.
In the mean time, players like Carmello Anthony do all they can to try to bolster the league's image by producing heartfelt apologies for DUIs and verbalizing their commitment to their city and team. Only to have some white game fixer tarnish their good work with accusations and innuendo that doesn't seem to implicate the players.
There's always an undercurrent of suspicion directed at the league and its players. It's as if Freddy Krueger is lurking in the shadows, ready to slice and dice at any moment.
And lest you forget, Freddy is a white guy.
This topic is rich with possibilities, and I'm going to get into it in greater depth as time goes on. The good news is, I have all summer to get on your nerves with the truth, just like I always do.
Indeed. The possibilities for, as Stephen Colbert would say, 'truthiness' are endless.
And if Stephen A. gets on your nerves this summer, remember what he told us in our interview with him:
I consider it my responsibility to express a point of view -- even one I may admittedly not necessarily agree with -- that echoes that of the disenfranchised, the individuals who feel passionately about something yet go unheard.
A responsibility which will clearly be met.