The Hornets landed the top overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft.
Was it by luck, or was it a favor the NBA owed the Hornets after losing Chris Paul?
When NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver announced that the New Orleans Horntes would select first in the 2012 NBA Draft, a whole new NBA conspiracy was created. What exactly is an NBA conspiracy? It's a very sketchy story that includes some inside and possibly illegal moves that the NBA is involved with. The thing is, no conspiracies have been proven. That's for us to decide. But before we go into NBA conspiracies, here's how the 2012 Lottery turned out.
1. New Orleans Hornets
2. Charlotte Bobcats
3. Washington Wizards
4. Cleveland Cavaliers
5. Sacramento Kings
6. Portland Trailblazers
7. Golden State Warriors
8. Toronto Raptors
9. Detroit Pistons
10. New Orelans Hornets
11. Portland Trailblazers
12. Milwaukee Bucks
13. Phoenix Suns
14. Houston Rockets
So now that you have the lottery results in your mind, let's figure out how this could have possibly happened (from the mind of a conspiracist). As many NBA fans already know, the New Orleans Hornets are currently owned by the NBA, since they were bankrupt. Although the New Orleans Saints' owner Tom Benson, bought the team two months ago, the NBA doesn't hand over operations until this summer. Going into Wednesday night's lottery, the Hornets were projected the 4th pick and had a 13.7% chance of landing the top pick.
Here's how a meeting between Commissioner David Stern and Tom Benson could have went:
Stern: So I hear your Saints aren't doing too well?
Benson: Yeah, it's unfortunate.
Stern: Well how about I give you a nice low-ball deal to buy the Hornets and keep the attention away from the Saints?
Benson: No way, the Hornets stink, and I would only buy them for $100 million less than your offering.
Stern: What if the Hornets somehow landed the top pick in the draft though?
Benson: What do you mean?
Stern: You know exactly what I mean.
Benson: Commish, you've got yourself a deal.
Did Tom Benson have inside information on whether or not the Hornets would select the top pick in the draft? No one will ever know, and that's why it's a conspiracy.
After losing franchise player Chris Paul right before the start of the season, the Hornets were doomed to find a new owner. With Eric Gordon sidelined for the majority of the season, nothing was looking good in the Big Easy. But with a healthy Gordon next season, and two Top 10 picks, along with Emeka Okafor, this team doesn't look too bad anymore.
And that's exactly what David Stern was thinking (in the mind of a conspiracist).
But why would Stern screw over the Bobcats, who just last season, had the lowest winning percentage of all-time?
Maybe Stern knew Davis wouldn't be a good fit for Charlotte. Maybe he knew that Michael Jordan would be much better off grooming a 6-7, 230 lb small forward than a 6-10 frail as could be power forward. Maybe Stern knew that the Bobcats needed a scorer, and a leader, and not a shot blocker and rebounder.
Maybe Stern had nothing to do with it at all.
With that being said, here are three of my all-time favorite NBA conspiracies.
1985 NBA Lottery
Ladies and Gentlemen, this is where conspiracies all began. In case you didn't know, here's the background info you need. It's 1985, and the New York Knicks (David Stern's favorite team growing up as a kid) hadn't had a productive season in years. Good news for them though, was that the 1985 draft class was headlined by the next big-man superstar, Mr. Patrick Ewing. Supposedly Ewing was the best franchise player coming out of the draft in years.
The only thing wrong was that the Knicks weren't projected the #1 pick in the draft. So how could David Stern turn his team back into the championship team they were a decade before?
Back in 1985, the way the lottery worked was that each team had a large envelope, and those envelopes were placed in a large sphere that was to be spun around to "randomize" them. After the envelopes were shuffled, David Stern was supposed to then look away and randomly select an envelope, which would then decide who would get that pick. Rumor has it that Stern folded a crease on the Indiana Pacers envelope, so he knew to take that one out of the sphere to give them the #2 pick in the draft. This would leave his Knicks with the #1 pick in the draft, and line them up to select Patrick Ewing.
Watch http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bX1kMlG8c7Y to see how the lottery unfolded. As you can see, Stern selects the Pacers' envelope giving them the #2 pick in the draft. Former Knicks star, and at the time the president of basketball operations, Dave Debusschere, then acts shocked when finding out that the Knicks had won the lottery.
As we now know, Ewing never won that NBA title Knicks fans (Stern included) had been dreaming for ever since the day of the lottery. Ironically, many stars ended up coming out of that same draft including Joe Dumars, Chris Mullins, Karl Malone, and A.C. Green.
Even if David Stern runs the NBA, karma is always looking over his shoulder.
Michael Jordan's Secret Suspension
So here's the background information you need to know on this one. MJ is coming off of his third straight title, and is clearly the best player in the world. The only problem is, the NBA knew he had a gambling problem, and they believed that his father's death could have been related to a gambling or debt issue.
But how could David Stern suspend the greatest player of all time? Would that mean, like Pete Rose, Jordan would never be matriculated into the NBA Hall of Fame? Would that mean that people would stop buying Jordan's sneakers and other brands he endorsed?
No, because David Stern wasn't going to let the world know that Michael Jordan gambled on basketball. He wasn't going to humiliate and defame the reigning 3-time NBA champion and Finals MVP. So what was he going to do?
In a supposed secret meeting with NBA officials, Jordan was told by Stern that he would be suspended for one year, to get his mind off of gambling. In order to cover it up, Stern told Jordan that he should try playing baseball, to stay in shape, and to make it seem like his retirement didn't come out of nowhere.
So why does this make sense? Jordan was a competition and a gambling freak. He took things so seriously that he would bet thousands or even millions of dollars that he could do certain things. Isn't it also fishy that Jordan missed exactly 100 games, before coming back mid-season to play?
Again, none of this has been proven true, and it is likely a big coincidence, but it is something interesting to think about.
2002 Western Conference Finals
Out of the two conspiracies already mentioned, this one is the most likely to be true. In fact, it's already been written about on multiple websites and even in a book.
Here's the background info you need. The Lakers and Kings are set to play each other in the Western Conference Finals. The Lakes were coming off of two straight championships, but believe it or not, weren't the better team in the series. Mike Bibby, Chris Webber, Vlade Divac, and Doug Christie were playing unbelievable basketball at the time, and helped earn the Kings the top seed in the conference.
So how did the Lakers manage to come back from being down 3-2 in the Western Conference Finals?
By shooting ridiculous amounts of free-throws.
So how could this happen? Because Tim Donaghy was refereeing the game. Not only did Donaghy bet on the Lakers, but so did most of America. They were America's team. The NBA knew that a having the Lakers in the finals would bring so many more viewers than if the Kings advanced to the finals. It was simply a business move. But how could the refs control the game, and make sure the Lakers won?
The Lakers got every call possible in Games 6 and 7.
In fact, the Lakers shot 40 free-throws in Game 6, 27 of which came in the fourth quarter alone. Not to mention that they shot 17 more free throws then the Kings in the fourth quarter. Is it a coincidence that the game ended 106-102. No chance, that game definitely came down to officiating and free-throws.
Same story in Game 7. The Lakers outshot the Kings from the free-throw line, and won in a six-point game in overtime.
Don't believe me. Read straight from Tim Donaghy's book here: http://deadspin.com/5392067/excerpts-from-the-book-the-nba-doesnt-want-you-to-read
And the rest of you should know the story from here. The Lakers advanced to the NBA Finals, swept the Nets, and clinched their first three-peat in over 45 years.
Again, don't go off after reading this thinking that all of these stories are true. Because they're not (at least not yet). These stories are conspiracies that get the mind thinking.
I would like to know your thoughts on your favorite NBA conspiracies. Comment below with your opinions.