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Referees power Lakers to a Game 3 victory over Celtics, 87-81

Just kidding -- Kobe & Co. (but really just Kobe) won last night's do-or-nearly-die game in the NBA Finals all by themselves and without an unnatural assist from the refs, in the immortal words of Hillary Clinton, "as far as I know." The fact that a four-game sweep would have been costly to the NBA and its broadcast partner ABC is merely a coincidence, right?

Who knows anymore? Just this week, I was adding horse racing to the list of undependably corrupt sports I was finding it hard to enjoy. The list really is shrinking down to curling and the National Spelling Bee:

Donaghy, 41, a Havertown native and Villanova grad who began working as an official in 1994, also said that at least two playoff games were manipulated to prolong the series.
In 2002, for instance, he claims that a pair of referees conspired to push the Lakers-Kings Western Conference finals to a seventh game by "heavily" favoring Los Angeles in Game 6. The teams were not named in the letter, but only the Lakers-King series went seven games that year.
Officials called "made-up fouls" against Sacramento and ignored fouls committed by the Lakers, Donaghy alleged. He described the referees as "company men," always acting in the interest of the NBA, and that night, it was in the NBA's interest to add another game to the series.
Los Angeles won, 106-102, shooting 40 free throws to the Kings' 25. The refs called 31 fouls against Sacramento - Scot Pollard and Vlade Divac fouled out - and 24 against the Lakers, who went on to win the series.

I remember that 2002 series well -- sports talk stations like WIP were innundated with calls from people who watched Game 6 and thought the fix was in, because TV would have lost millions of viewers if Shaq and Kobe were ousted by the talented but team-oriented Kings. The hosts tried to reassure the callers, as I recall, that that kind of thing never really happens.

Oh boy.

The other possibility raised by Donaghy and by this story is simply that people from Villanova are evil.