The man who heads the NBA's officials says he has heard all the conspiracy theories, and in 23 years as an NBA official, he has never been 'ordered' by the league to do anything, News Radio 1200 WOAI's Stephanie Narvaez reports.
Mike Bantam talked with 1200 WOAI news in an exclusive interview ahead of tonight’s Game Three of the NBA Finals in Miami.
"Each play, one after another, there is no connection between one play and another," Bantam said. "The crowd doesn't influence the referees, it is all about what the referee sees on the floor and trying to get that particular play right."
The NBA has been a gold mine for conspiracy theorists, far more than any other sport, and most of the theories have to do with allegations that referees are given a pre-ordained outcome by the league and are instructed to make it happen. Before the current NBA Finals began, callers to sports talk radio were claiming that the referees had been told to make sure that the Spurs won the series, because a victory by what is considered to be the 'model franchise' would counter the league's black eye over Clippers owner Donald Sterling's bizarre comments. But after the Spurs lost on Sunday night, callers were claiming that the NBA didn't want the series to go to Miami with the Spurs ahead two games to none, because that would hurt TV ratings.
Bantam says he has no idea where these ideas cone from, but they have no connection between what happens on the court.
And he says The Finals are also The Finals for the referees. He says only the best refs, just like only the best teams, make it to The Finals.
"By the time you get to The Finals, you basically have the twelve best of our staff, based on a high pressure situation."
And he says the only thing the referees are interested in, is making sure the rules are enforced accurately and fairly.
"Announcers all the time say the referees should let the players play the game," he said. "We agree with that, but we want the players to play the game within the rules. So you can't allow any transgressions to occur."
Game two is tonight in Miami, with game time on 1200 WOAI with the Voice of the Spurs Bill Schoening at 8PM.