Ch. 3: An In-Depth Look into how the NBA Fixed a Series for LBJ

Game 7 of the Cavaliers-Pacers series became the rock-bottom-moment of my lifetime spent as a hardcore sports fan.  The Indiana Pacers were clearly the better team throughout this series and I was sure Game 7 would get fixed if the Pacers were challenging in the 2nd half.  I was not wrong- the Pacers were called for a 2018 Playoff-high 30 fouls, and the Cavaliers shot a playoff-high 40 free throw attempts.  The 2nd half of this game is likely the most obvious fix I have ever seen, along with the infamous 4th quarter of game 6 of the 2002 WCF.

What was equally concerning with the one-sided officiating was how obvious it was that the broadcast team, as well as the TV-network was in on the fix.  The commentators, specifically Mike Breen and Mark Jackson,  misdirected viewers’ attention away from brutal foul calls on the Pacers, as well as not expressing concern at phantom fouls being called on Indiana, which happened throughout the game. 

Phantom Fouls:  when the whistle blows and as a viewer, you have no idea why the whistle went, the commentators gloss over the call, continue undisturbed in their discussion, and the viewer never gets to see the call replayed. 

During the 4th Quarter, the referees were under a ton of pressure to slow down the Pacers and help the Cavs.  The broadcast did not replay any of the calls against the Pacers in the 4th quarter, and other than once or twice, the commentating team did not question the calls.  Unless a viewer is totally focused on the TV, and is highly educated on the rules of basketball, it would be easy to miss what was going on when the announcers aren’t questioning clearly one-sided officiating and the broadcast is not showing replays of critical calls. This game was as obvious of a fix as what happened to the Sacramento Kings in Game 6 of the aforementioned 2002 Western Conference Finals, (and coincidentally or not), the Lakers and Cavs in both of these fixes by the NBA shot an astounding 40 free throw attempts. (18-22 free throw attempts is roughly the average for an NBA team in a normal game).

Here is a video compilation of SOME of the brutal calls and non-calls that cost Indiana this series in Game 7.


The most bizarre and concerning element of the Game 7 fix was the reaction by the Pacers after the game.  During the game they were going crazy at many of the bogus calls against them, but after the game it was a completely different story.   I was expecting to hear an outpouring of outrage from the Pacers locker room and an infuriated press-conference by Coach Nate McMillan following the screwjob.  Instead I heard nothing but praise for LeBron and the Cavaliers being a great team, the greatness of James, and how they- ‘did our best but we came up a bit short’.  McMillan did not stand up for his team in any way during his 12-minute press-conference, and mentioned nothing about the officiating- which was baffling at very best.  

To hear no outrage coming from a Pacers team that was just officiated into elimination by an absurd amount of foul calls and free throws against, suggests a much deeper corruption than I would even like to consider.  What do they fear that is keeping them silent about the obvious injustice?  What threats have been made that they would keep silent after having their season and a famous playoff victory stolen from them? How could the players and organization not stand up for themselves, the state of Indiana, the integrity of their sport, and their fanbase? 

Another bizarre element of Game 7 was the mysterious absence of Lance Stephenson- who had been a huge factor in slowing down LeBron all series-  but in game 7 he played only 12 minutes and zero in the 2nd half.  I desperately wanted an explanation.  However, I still have not had this question answered despite tweeting @Pacers and at other Pacers’ Twitter-news accounts.  I never heard this mentioned at all in the post-game coverage, and his absence should have been a major talking-point.  This is highly suspicious to me.  (*Fast-forward a couple months now and as I’m writing this Lance Stephenson signs on the Lakers with LeBron…)


Every Indiana Pacers player and coach knows what happened that day- “they were playing 5-on-8 versus the Cavaliers and the 3 refs”, to quote Stephen A. Smith.  “Ain’t no way LeBron is going home in a Game 7 in the 1st round people, it just was never going to happen. The ratings matter- TV matters.  Toronto and Indiana in the second round? Oh my goodness we can’t have that!”

I credit Stephen A. Smith as being the only member of the mainstream media who called this game a fix with no mixed words.  Here is a link to his shockingly honest comments- watch between the 5-7 minute marks. I applaud Stephen A. Smith for his honesty and his attempt to stand up for what sports is supposed to be about.

Continue to Part 4 of this essay-