In the wake of their Game 2 overtime loss to the Miami Heat, many Boston Celtics fans grew livid at several bad calls that helped decide the game. In particular, this Rajon Rondo missed lay-up involved a pretty clear foul by Dwyane Wade, but the Heat ended up converting at the other end to take a four-point lead.
Those fans are still upset. So, to show displeasure at Friday night's Game 3, they're going to wear masks of Tim Donaghy, the referee who admitted to betting on games and acting as part of an illegal gambling ring. From CBS Boston (via Deadspin):
Let's face it, folks: the fix is in. So let David Stern know how you feel on national television tonight by wearing your very own TIM DONAGHY MASK.
Just print it out, cut along the lines, and wear it proudly at tonight's Celtics game!!!
The project is the brainchild of Toucher and Rich, two former rock DJs who only yesterday were lauded for their fresh take on sports radio. Clearly, they can't be too original, because complaining about referees is as much of a stereotypical radio reaction — especially in Boston — as any amount of cartoon sound effects and claims that a caller "brought the thunder" (or a similar phrase of your choice). Celtics fans, under the guidance of longtime announcer and referee paranoiac Tommy Heinsohn, have spoken of these sorts of conspiracies for years. Honestly, I'm a little surprised they haven't printed up Donaghy masks before.
What those fans fail to realize, of course, is that the Celtics have often benefited from questionable calls in these very same playoffs, most notably in the final minutes of their first-round series against the Atlanta Hawks. Additionally, they got a break on a late jump-ball call in Wednesday's Game 2 when Rajon Rondo seemed to have reached in to foul LeBron James in the post. If this is a conspiracy, I don't understand its goals.
The fact of the matter is that, while the Heat did have more calls go their way in that game, NBA referees screw up all the time in both directions. Conspiracies exist in the world, but they require such a high level of competence to be effective that it's hard to imagine NBA referees having the wherewithal to carry one out. For the most part, when calls go against a particular team it's a set of random occurrences unrelated to a nefarious, all-encompassing plan to control the league. Sadly, that lack of structure can often be scarier and less comforting than the idea of a conspiracy. When things turn bad, it's nice to know that there's an order to it all.