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Does Match Fixing and Point Shaving Happen In The NBA?

David Stern and Adam Silver

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Interpol and FIFA have just uncovered the single largest match fixing scheme in any sport. A syndicate based out of Singapore has penetrated almost every single soccer (football) league in Asia, Europe and North America. With the help of eastern European gangsters, the scandal and its group reportedly affected games in semi pro leagues all the way up to Champions league matches and even World Cup qualifiers. News will soon filter out that even some matches at World Cups were rigged.

Even a league as small as the Canadian Soccer League was affected as some of the teams themselves are owned by Croatians or Serbs which now sadly automatically means gangsters and all the baggage they bring. If someone on the other side of the globe can affect the result of a game and bet on it in Laval, Quebec, then imagine what they could do in their own backyard or on a bigger stage.

By certain statistics, basketball has become the second most popular sport in the world. Athletes have now crossed international boundaries to earn scholarships and salaries to earn a living playing the sport they love. Americans are playing in Asia while Asian players are plying their trade in the NBA. Eastern Europeans, Russians and Lithuanians dot most league rosters. Mikhail Prokhorov, a Russian, owns the Brooklyn Nets.

Those who believe that match fixing–or in basketball terms, point shaving–does not occur in the NBA are wearing rose colored glasses. The Tim Donaghy affair already confirmed that match fixing and point shaving occurs and is rampant. He claims to have fixed the sixth game of the 2002 Sacramento Kings and Los Angeles Lakers Western Conference Finals. He claims that the league, the networks and bettors wanted a seventh game, so he gave it to them.

His most shocking claim might be that other referees have done the same for years and that David Stern turns a blind eye to everything.

The league is littered with players and coaches with criminal pasts. There is no need to list those names as that would take up a column itself. Even Michael Jordan has had these rumors tied to him as the reason why he first retired and the reason for his father’s murder. The ability to get a hold of and have access to a referee, coach or even player is easy. Therefore the ability of any bettor, let alone a gangster, to get a score line or a game to go one way or another is there.

The league is now being accessed via television and internet from around the world. In Las Vegas as well as in Europe, wagers are monitored to see if anything fishy is going on. For the rest of the world. this is not the case as strict laws are not in place and underground betting sites are in abundance.

Adding all these facts up and seeing what happens in every other sport across the globe, one can’t help but think the NBA has the same issues. The NCAA has point shaving issues come up every couple of years. NBA players have boasted about playing for money on the hard courts of their hometowns. The base and groundwork is there and can’t be blindly passed over.

Sometimes while watching a game, you wonder why a player is having an off night. Sometimes you wonder why a player never reached his true potential. You might wonder why a player turned the ball over or why the coach ran a certain play at the end of the game. You might wonder why the referee made or blew a call. Unfortunately, now I watch every game wondering what the spread is, what the over under is, why a player is playing like he is and ultimately why the outcome of the game occurred that way it did. That is the new reality of games and their results in the NBA.

Can or will this every change? No, it never will. Sadly, this have been going on for years and too many characters are involved who don’t have a vested interested in the game itself but make their living doing it this way. It affects too many people to have it change now. Just do what I do: understand it happens and let it be.

Shahab Khan is a Columnist with Rant Sports focusing on the Toronto Raptors

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