The Nuggets lost Sunday night in a great game, a back-and-forth battle against the Lakers, 92-88.
It was a devastating blow in a solid series to this point, in which the better, more experienced team eventually edged out the lesser skilled and younger squad.
For Denver fans, it sucks.
Some will say Pau Gasol should have been called for an offensive foul on Danilo Gallinari—I did last night—but one of the best parts of Game Four was that the refs let the players play for the most part.
Believe me, being a Denver native and homer, I get it.
But I see it this way; either the refs are rigged and NBA Commissioner David Stern actually calls all the shots, instructing his minion referees to force games to go down a certain predetermined path, deciding the winner of the title far in advance, or the players determine the outcome.
If you believe Stern pulls all the strings, then why watch the NBA at all?
You might as well spend your time watching the WWE, with it's scripted lines and outcomes, than the NBA.
I enjoy watching sports for the unexpected nature of everything; the coaching and individual player matchups, the possibilities of personal performances leading the team to victory and teams coming together to form something greater than the makeup of the individuals.
In a world where we control so much—escaping darkness with light bulbs, besting nature with our shelters etc.—sports offer those rare, unpredictable occurrences.
It's John Elway leading the Broncos on “The Drive,” it's Rodney Rogers hitting three threes with less than nine seconds on the clock or the Rockies winning 21-22 games and making it to their first ever World Series.
We can't forget the 1994 Nuggets, who finished the season as the eighth seed, only to upset the No. 1 seed, George Karl-led Supersonics in the first round of the playoffs.
Or did Stern somehow set that up, too?
For years I fell under the belief that the NBA was controlled by Stern; why else did the Nuggets never have a chance?
But after searching through the statistics, looking at foul calls in various playoff games and series—ones I thought Denver had been jobbed by the refs—there was no evidence the refs called more penalties against the Nuggets than their opponents.
And while I don't believe the NBA—or their officials—is rigged, it has become obvious that their referees are the most inconsistent of the major American sports.
It's why we have this discussion every year and it's a problem the NBA must face and fix.
So call the refs terrible, biased towards superstars or blind—some of them are—just don't call the NBA rigged.