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25 Biggest Conspiracy Theories In Sports History

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25 Biggest Conspiracy Theories in Sports History

David Stern Jay-Z 25 Biggest Conspiracies in Sports History
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The wide world of sports is a perfect theater for all types of conspiracy theorists, from the raving madman to the convincing sleuth. Regardless of the field of play, strange mysteries and deep controversies spring up naturally and often, which only adds to the richness of the unpredictable entertainment we've all come to love. The following are 25 of history's most intriguing, insane or otherwise newsworthy sports conspiracy theories.

25. Spice in Auburn

2011 Auburn Tigers synthetic marijuana controversy spice controversy
Mark Wilson - Getty Image News

25. Spice in Auburn

2011 Auburn Tigers synthetic marijuana controversy spice controversy
Mark Wilson - Getty Image News

This one is really strange, and really convoluted. Allegedly, rampant smoking of synthetic herbs, or “spice," led to several serious offenses by Auburn Tigers football players. Some sports sites call it total BS, while other seem to give it credence. Since the alleged activities took place in 2011, we're far from knowing for sure either way.

24. Curt Schilling's Bloody Sock Conspiracy

Curt Schilling bloody sock conspiracy
Jared Wickerham - Getty Images Sport

24. Curt Schilling's Bloody Sock Conspiracy

Curt Schilling bloody sock conspiracy
Jared Wickerham - Getty Images Sport

The widely well-respected Curt Schilling gained some unexpected negative attention in 2007, when Baltimore Orioles play-by-play man Gary Thorne relayed to his listeners an odd tale. Thorne told fans that Doug Mirabelli confessed to him that the blood on Schilling's sock in that infamous moment was fake, and was only there for PR reasons.

23. Is Hoffa Buried at Giants Stadium?

MetLife Stadium Giants Stadium Jimmy Hoffa conspiracy
John Moore - Getty Images Sport

23. Is Hoffa Buried at Giants Stadium?

MetLife Stadium Giants Stadium Jimmy Hoffa conspiracy
John Moore - Getty Images Sport

Here, we have more “good old-timey sports legend” than “evidence-driven controversy”, but fans in the Big Apple have talked about it for generations nonetheless. The story goes that Jimmy Hoffa's final resting place is no other than Giants Stadium, predecessor to the current MetLife Stadium, perhaps even in one of the Giants' end zones.

22. Did Manny Pacquiao Take a Dive?

Manny Pacquiao Timothy Bradley conspiracy
Kevork Djansezian - Getty Images Sport

22. Did Manny Pacquiao Take a Dive?

Manny Pacquiao Timothy Bradley conspiracy
Kevork Djansezian - Getty Images Sport

The shocking result of Pacquiao/Bradley I inspired several conspiracy theories immediately. Some boxing fans even went as far as to call this apparently blatant conspiracy the death of boxing.

21. Stealing Signs In MLB

Edwin Encarnacion Jose Bautista Toronto Blue Jays
David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

21. Stealing Signs In MLB

Edwin Encarnacion Jose Bautista Toronto Blue Jays
David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

YouTube videos and internet sleuths alike seem to indicate that the Toronto Blue Jays were stealing signs with the help of some creative fans in the 2011 season. What many may not know is that the New York Giants' "shot heard 'round the world" allegedly came through the assistance of a similar sign-stealing tactic.

20. Was The '58 NFL Championship Fixed?

Indianapolis Colts New York Giants greatest game ever played conspiracy
Jeff Zelevansky - Getty Images Sport

20. Was The '58 NFL Championship Fixed?

Indianapolis Colts New York Giants greatest game ever played conspiracy
Jeff Zelevansky - Getty Images Sport

Could it be? Could "the greatest game ever played" truly have been fixed? According to many old-school sports conspiracy theory experts, which is a thing: yes.

19. Did the NFL Hand New England the Super Bowl?

New England Patriots 2001
Al Bello - Getty Images Sport Classic

19. Did the NFL Hand New England the Super Bowl?

New England Patriots 2001
Al Bello - Getty Images Sport Classic

Following the terrorist attacks of the same year, patriotism was obviously high here in the U.S. Some theorists calculate that the NFL tried to capitalize on this by nudging the 2001 New England Patriots towards that season's Lombardi Trophy.

18. Did Phelps Actually Lose His Epic "Comeback"?

Michael Phelps Milorad Cavic conspiracy
Ezra Shaw - Getty Images Sport

18. Did Phelps Actually Lose His Epic "Comeback"?

Michael Phelps Milorad Cavic conspiracy
Ezra Shaw - Getty Images Sport

No, we aren't talking about Michael Phelps and his infamous bong rip. Some swimming fanatics have video evidence indicating that Phelps actually lost to Milorad Cavic in his notorious “comeback” in the 2008 Beijing Games. These theorists think a super-touchy touch pad was rigged to give the American an unfair advantage.

17. Liu Xiang Mysteriously Missing Key Race

Lui Xiang conspiracy
Craig Mitchelldyer - Getty Images Sport

17. Liu Xiang Mysteriously Missing Key Race

Lui Xiang conspiracy
Craig Mitchelldyer - Getty Images Sport

After popular Chinese hurdler Lui Xiang mysteriously withdrew from a 2012 race, many theories emerged from the public that the Chinese government ordered all the media in the country to produce only positive tales about Xiang from then on.

16. Did Bobby Riggs Throw The Battle of the Sexes?

Bobby Riggs Billie Jean King Battle of the Sexes conspiracy
Getty Images Sport

16. Did Bobby Riggs Throw The Battle of the Sexes?

Bobby Riggs Billie Jean King Battle of the Sexes conspiracy
Getty Images Sport

Theories still continue about Bobby Riggs throwing his Battle of the Sexes match against Billie Jean King, possibly in order to pay off his debt to the mob. Perhaps these theories have some validity, or perhaps their creators don't want to admit that Riggs was beaten fair and square.

15. The Hand of God

Diego Maradona
Mike King - Getty Images Sport Classic

15. The Hand of God

Diego Maradona
Mike King - Getty Images Sport Classic

Many believe that the refs in the 1980 World Cup final allowed a clear handball by Argentina to go without punishment, helping the club to win the cup over West Germany.

14. MLB Collusion

Bud Selig mlb collusion conspiracy
Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

14. MLB Collusion

Bud Selig mlb collusion conspiracy
Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Collusion between MLB teams is perhaps as well known and obvious as corruption among international soccer referees. This one is basically undeniable at this point, as big-league clubs speak freely with one another without regard to old rules that would prohibit such activity.

13. A Power Outage for Cal Ripken Jr.?

Cal Ripken Jr. baltimor orioles power outage conspiracy
Jared Wickerham - Getty Images Sport

13. A Power Outage for Cal Ripken Jr.?

Cal Ripken Jr. baltimor orioles power outage conspiracy
Jared Wickerham - Getty Images Sport

Some think the Baltimore Orioles actually faked a power outage to keep the Iron Man streak alive for their beloved Cal Ripken Jr. As someone who has named his own kin after the man (not kidding), I can only say “no comment.”

12. Did NBA Choose L.A. to Win 2002 Finals?

2002 Los Angeles Lakers finals conspiracy
Lisa Blumenfeld - Getty Images Sport

12. Did NBA Choose L.A. to Win 2002 Finals?

2002 Los Angeles Lakers finals conspiracy
Lisa Blumenfeld - Getty Images Sport

Since the Los Angeles Lakers have a slightly bigger fanbase than the Sacramento Kings, some NBA fans think the league handed L.A. the '02 championship through the help of some friendly calls.

11. NBA Teams Tanking Games

Chicago Bulls 2014 NBA tanking conspiracy
Brock Williams-Smith - Getty Images Sport

11. NBA Teams Tanking Games

Chicago Bulls 2014 conspiracy
Brock Williams-Smith - Getty Images Sport

The discussion about NBA teams tanking the ends of their seasons to get a better chance in the upcoming draft lotto has probably never been more prevalent. Adam Silver had to publicly deny it in March of this year, to which many responded with shouts of "Shenanigans!" and "Malarkey!" Mark Cuban even told USA Today that the truth behind teams tanking games was now "an absolute."

10. An Affair with LeBron's Mom?

LeBron James Delonte West conspiracy
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

10. An Affair with LeBron's Mom?

LeBron James Delonte West conspiracy
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

LeBron returned to Cleveland to become a hero, but do you know why he really left in the first place? According to some, James took his talents to South Beach because then-teammate Delonte West had a little too much fun with LeBron's mom one night in Cleveland.

9. The Gretzky Family's Gambling Troubles

Wayne Gretzky Janet Gretzky gambling ring conspiracy
Derek Leung - Getty Images Sport

9. The Gretzky Family's Gambling Troubles

Wayne Gretzky Janet Gretzky gambling ring conspiracy
Derek Leung - Getty Images Sport

Among many shady rumors involving hockey legend Wayne Gretzky is the tale of his wife Janet's alleged involvement in a 2006 gambling ring. Despite the lack of any concrete evidence, many believed he was also somehow involved.

8. The Gretzky Trade Conspiracy

Wayne Gretzky trade conspiracy
Andrew D. Bernstein - Getty Images

8. The Gretzky Trade Conspiracy

Wayne Gretzky trade conspiracy
Andrew D. Bernstein - Getty Images

Hockey lovers are still split about what it was that caused the Edmonton Oilers to trade The Great One to the Los Angeles Kings. Many theorists think the league simply couldn't afford to keep their best player north of the American border.

7. Did the USSR Throw the Miracle On Ice?

USA Hockey Team conspiracy
Doug Pensinger - Getty Images Sport

7. Did the USSR Throw the Miracle On Ice?

USA Hockey Team conspiracy
Doug Pensinger - Getty Images Sport

Since the Venn diagram of “people who believe wacky conspiracy theories” and “people who just want to ruin the fun for everyone” has some rather some significant overlap, some theorists still think the Soviets threw the classic 1980 Olympic hockey match between the U.S. and the USSR.

6. Spygate

Bill Belichick new england patriots conspiracy
Doug Pensinger - Getty Images Sport

6. Spygate

Bill Belichick new england patriots conspiracy
Doug Pensinger - Getty Images Sport

Let's move now from nearly a century back to just seven years ago, when news of the New England Patriots' illegal filming of other teams' practices took over the sports news world. Many are still loudly, angrily asking some worthwhile questions -- most notably, why did commissioner Roger Goodell so quickly destroy the tapes?

5. The 1919 Chicago Black Sox Scandal

1919 World Series Cincinnati Reds Chicago White Sox conspiracy
Jonathan Daniel - Getty Images Sport

5. The 1919 Chicago Black Sox Scandal

1919 World Series Cincinnati Reds Chicago White Sox conspiracy
Jonathan Daniel - Getty Images Sport

The Chicago White Sox are struggling this season, but things have been much, much worse for Pale Hose fans. The conspiracy behind the 1919 Sox intentionally losing that season's championship is 100 percent true, and is actually one of the most well-documented in sports history.

4. Was The "Flu Game" Caused by Food Poisoning?

Michael Jordan food poisoning conspiracy
Streeter Lecka - Getty Images Sport

4. Was The "Flu Game" Caused by Food Poisoning?

Michael Jordan food poisoning conspiracy
Streeter Lecka - Getty Images Sport

Many rumors followed Michael Jordan's incredible “Flu Game,” including a frightening-yet-entertaining tale about a late-night pizza delivery from a small group of intimidating gentlemen.

3. Jordan Forced to Switch Sports?

Michael Jordan conspiracy
Grant Halverson - Getty Images Sport

3. Jordan Forced to Switch Sports?

Michael Jordan conspiracy
Grant Halverson - Getty Images Sport

A vocal portion of NBA fans in the '90s claim that MJ didn't switch sports for any uplifting, family-driven reasons, but instead was asked to temporarily leave by the NBA itself.

2. The Phantom Punch

Muhammad Ali Phantom Punch controversy Sonny Liston
Central Press - Getty Images Sport Classic

2. The Phantom Punch

Muhammad Ali Phantom Punch controversy Sonny Liston
Central Press - Getty Images Sport Classic

The infamous “Phantom Punch” came in 1964 when then-Cassius Clay and now-Muhammad Ali earned a TKO victory over Sonny Liston. Sonny's grim background lent to this conspiracy a sense of realism. Many still believe that, for whatever reason, Liston took a dive that night. Either way, it made for a fantastic sports moment.

1. All the NBA Draft Conspiracies

David Stern draft conspiracy
Stuart C. Wilson - Getty Images Sport

1. All the NBA Draft Conspiracies

David Stern draft conspiracy
Stuart C. Wilson - Getty Images Sport

The '85 draft with the New York Knicks and Patrick Ewing is only one of the drafts in which theorists believe the league altered the result. I don't have enough room to document them all, but YouTube is full of videos explaining how the uploader's team got duped.