I was in the basement of my parents house. It was the NBA on NBC. It was the year after my Milwaukee Bucks got jobbed out in Game 7 (Putting Sam Cassell in foul trouble allowed for Allen Iverson going off). But if I was able to relax through Horace Grant fouling Kevin Johnson in the NBA Finals, and Michael Jordan getting one last offensive foul ignored as he pushed off on Byron Russell, I could fade my home team getting the shaft.
But in 2002, I broke up with the NBA. And I can pinpoint it down to the exact moment. It was like when I was watching Patriot Games and decided that Seth MacFarlane was nothing more than a hack who is in firm belief that his shit never stank. Put it this way, this was the minutes that felt like hours which took only seconds.
Lets set the scene. Game 6, the Lakers have found themselves on road to ruin. Sacramento, after many failings to win a series versus LA, (and were up 3-2 in this series) had led for most of the game, but suddenly? The Lakers started getting sent to the line, and had the lead. The Kings needed a stop. And with Mike Bibby on Kobe Bryant this play happened.
Kobe got trapped to the sideline. Bibby was covering him like a champion. Suddenly, Kobe swings his elbow and Bibby falls.
Dick Bavetta called the foul on Bibby.
I didn’t know the exact whys and wherefores statistically (27 4th quarter free throws for the Lakers), I didn’t know if there was a lack of twisted steel and sex appeal in a matchup between Chris Webber and Jason Kidd. I didn’t know that David Stern has the personality of Alan Dershowitz and the crulety of Michael Vick at Bad News Kennels. I just knew that the refs were corrupt, the Kings got jobbed, and I was done.
So why am I sharing this? It’s three hundred words on a phantom foul. There has to be a reason, right?
Well, yeah. Tim Dongahy says that two officials fixed this game. I’m not saying this to be surprised. It just feels nice to be right.
The Epicness comes later…