Maybe it’s because disgraced NBA ref Tim Donaghy grew up near my hometown (Go Cardinal O’Hara Lions!), but I’m totally intrigued by the whole NBA .
As the Sports Guy pointed out yesterday, there is nothing deadlier for a league than a gambling controversy:
For honest referees still working games, it doesn’t matter what happens from this point on — their collective integrity will always be questioned, their collective track record won’t matter, and that will be that.
Of course, the NBA has other problems than just the collective credibility of its refs being called into question, not the least of which is that the city of Phoenix has to live with the suspicion that it might have been the 2006-2007 NBA champ if not for one crooked official.
So I can’t help but smile when I remember that it was just a few months ago that the NBA held its All-Star Game in the biggest gambling mecca in the world, Las Vegas.
And it wasn’t so long before that that Bud Selig was thinking about moving the Expos to Sin City.
From USA Today, April 15, 2004:
Baseball’s relocation committee, determined to find a suitable home for the Expos before the 2005 season, discussed the six leading cities vying for the team during a two-hour conference call Thursday.
If you had to handicap the cities, the Washington, D.C., area, which includes Northern Virginia, remains the favorite. Portland, Ore., Norfolk, Va., and Monterrey, Mexico, also are in contention.
“Las Vegas is a serious candidate,” DuPuy says. “Very viable.”
Selig says, “Years ago you wouldn’t have thought about Las Vegas. I was raised in that era, but today gambling is legal everywhere. In Detroit, you can walk out of the ballpark and there’s a legal casino.”
Selig adds the promoters in Las Vegas “have been very aggressive, and it is one of the cities the relocation committee is considering.”
Now, you’ve got to think Selig woke up yesterday morning and read the headlines and thought, “I guess it could be worse. I guess there are worse problems than Barry Bonds.”
And you’ve got to think that, if Jeffery Loria came to Selig this afternoon and told him he wanted to move the Marlins to Las Vegas, Selig would tell him he was crazy.
Because there may be gambling in every city in America, but no city has gambling like Las Vegas has gambling. And leagues that locate a franchise in Vegas are just asking for a scandal like the NBA has on its hands now.
I think Selig dodged a bullet when he decided to send the Expos to D.C. instead of Vegas. Now he’s just gotta make it through this Barry Bonds thing and it’ll be smooth sailing.