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Ralph Nader claims vindication in NBA flap

By Josh Richman
Wednesday, June 11th, 2008 at 1:52 pm in General.

nader.jpgRalph Nader‘s independent presidential campaign just issued a news release underscoring the candidate’s willingness to “call it as he sees it, without fear or favor” by outlining how he foresaw the NBA referee scandal.

The release claims Nader watched a 2002 playoff game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Sacramento Kings, and just knew the Kings were getting the short end of the stick from the refs; he even called NBA Commissioner David Stern about it, to no avail. And now court papers filed this week by a disgraced former NBA referee (trying to shave some time off his prison term as he’s about to be sentenced for taking cash payoffs from gamblers and betting on games himself) says refs really did help throw that game.

“The lesson we learned from the 2002 NBA Playoffs – Ralph was right,” today’s release says. “The Nader/Gonzalez platform of truth, justice and challenging the abuse of power deserves a hearing in this crucial election year. From the NBA to the Congress to the White House to K Street. Time to give America a choice for an independent voice.”

No mention in today’s release of that whole “Gore-is-the-same-as-Bush” meme from 2000, though…

See the whole Nader news release verbatim, after the jump…

Want to support a Presidential candidate who calls it as he sees it, without fear or favor?

Just look at today’s headlines, and you’ll see that Nader was the early warning system.

From food safety (bad tomatoes), to cracking down on corporate crime (sub-prime meltdown), to the oil industry ($4 a gallon), to health insurance (42 percent of adult Americans now underinsured or uninsured), to the corporate control of the two major political parties (corporate contributions to the Democratic Party convention in Denver), to the war in Iraq, to the NBA playoffs.

The NBA playoffs?

Yes, even when it comes to the NBA playoffs, Ralph was right.

And he was right early.

Back in 2002, Ralph was sitting at home watching game six of the NBA playoff game between the big TV market Los Angeles Lakers and the small TV market Sacramento Kings.

The Kings were up three games to two.

One win and the Kings would move on.

Shaq and Kobe and the Lakers would be out.

In that crucial game six in Los Angeles, the referees called foul after foul against the Kings.

But when Kobe Bryant elbowed Mike Bibby’s nose, sending Bibby to the sideline bleeding, no foul was called.

It was that bad.

As the Washington Post’s Michael Wilbon put it at the time “I have never seen officiating in a game of consequence as bad as that in Game 6.”

The Lakers shot 40 free throws in that Game 6 – 27 in the fourth quarter – “won” the game 106-102, eliminated the Kings, and went on to beat the Nets for their third straight NBA Championship.

Ralph Nader saw injustice and on June 4, 2002, Ralph wrote to NBA Commissioner David Stern asking for an investigation.

Ralph personally spoke with Stern.

But Stern stiffed Ralph.

No action was taken.

Yesterday, former NBA referee Tom Donaghy, now convicted of conspiring with gamblers, was pointing fingers at his colleagues.

Donaghy’s lawyer, John Lauro, says NBA executives directed referees “to manipulate games” in order to “boost ticket sales and television ratings.”

According to Lauro, in the crucial 2002 Lakers/Kings game that Ralph complained to Stern about – “Tim learned from Referee A that Referees A and F wanted to extend the series to seven games.

Tim knew Referees A and F to be ‘company men,’ always acting in the interest of the NBA, and that night, it was in the NBA’s interest to add another game to the series.”

We tell our kids that sports teaches lessons about life.

The lesson we learned from the 2002 NBA Playoffs – Ralph was right.

The Nader/Gonzalez platform of truth, justice and challenging the abuse of power deserves a hearing in this crucial election year.

From the NBA to the Congress to the White House to K Street.

Time to give America a choice for an independent voice.

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  • Steve Richman

    I’m confused. Is Ralph Nader suggesting an immediate and total withdrawal of troops from the NBA?