Brad suffers from the conspiracy theorists greatest disease as he sees a sports conspiracy around every corner. In every event. You should hear him now in regards to the USA victories in the World Cup. Part of that whole terrorist fighting patriotic movement. Hell, that's why he thinks the Patriots won the Super Bowl. Even though he predicted the New York Knicks would garner the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft Lottery, when wrong he amended that prediction, lo, even conveniently forgot about it, to rework a conspiracy around the Houston Rockets. It's a nice theory and all, but Brad, let the conspiricies go and just relax.
The conspiracy theory is a fascinating thing. Most people just poo-poo it aside, writing it off to vivid, paranoid imaginations, occasionally giving it a wink-wink chuckle along the way. Others, naturally, view it as gospel. And then those in the middle enjoy the imagination involved in such an exercise of creativity.However, I think the conspiracy theory has actually played a role in the decline of popularity of two professional sports, in particular. Brad has noted on more than one occasion grave concerns about the NBA. Given the opportunity, he will figure out some way to connect the National Basketball Association to Watergate or the October Surprise, or both. Well, come to think of it, Lawrence O'Brien was very involved in Watergate. That's the same Lawrence O'Brien who was Commissioner of the NBA. Coincidentally, shortly after the reins were handed to David Stern, the NBA gained popularity. Magic to the Lakers, Bird to the Celtics, and the explosion in popularity that followed. Only a coincidence? Ask CHIA Brad.
Sports fans are fairly aware of the multitude of NBA conspiracy theories, probably highlighted by the belief the Lottery was rigged so that the New York Knicks would select Patrick Ewing. Then there's the Jordan gambling suspension conspiracy theory, the officials give superstars preferential treatment in an effort to keep ratings high conspiracy theory, even the more imaginative Tim Duncan to San Antonio to coincide with a referendum to build a new arena conspiracy theory.
While most of it is little more than a mental exercise, the NBA has done such a poor job of late marketing now-unmarketable individuals while continuing its apparent desire to maintain a dynasty, that if Stern himself sat down at a table with any of us, and over drinks said, "Yeah, it's all rigged. Everything they say is true. Jordan did gamble, and was suspended. The Rockets got the No. 1 pick because we think we can really market Steve Francis. Series are purposely stretched out to six or seven games because of TV ad revenue. The referees are instructed to make critical late-game calls in favor of the superstars…," none of us would even blink.
And therein lies one of the multitude of problems that linger with the NBA. When nobody would be shocked if the conspiracy theories were actually true, your sport suffers from serious image issues.
Of course, it could be worse. It could be boxing. For instance, this weekend in Las Vegas, I saw boxing fraud first-hand. Yes, in the monumental clash between Cruiserweights Dewey "Black Kobra" Cooper (Blackkobra.com) and Isaac "The Psychotic Grasshopper" Broussard, I saw, with my very eyes, referee Joe Cortez stop the fight with nine seconds remaining. A travesty indeed.
Who is Dewey "Black Kobra" Cooper? Well, he's a 2-0 not-very-good cruiserweight from Las Vegas accompanied by the biggest entourage I've ever seen. This dude had no less than 20 dancing girls by his side, not to mention a contingent of about 200 people in attendance to watch his boxing skills. On the other hand, the Psychotic Grasshopper, who was 0-2 coming in, was pretty much alone, but indeed psychotic. Goodness, what creepy eyes.
Well, the Grasshopper was giving the Kobra fits by virtue of his Prince Naseem fighting style. Fortunately for the Kobra, he scored a knockdown late in the fourth and final round. The Grasshopper easily made the count, but Cortez called the fight, I think fearful the judges' decision might have
caused a riot. It will forever go down in boxing lore as the Grasshopper/Kobra controversy. No less than 20 ring girls. I kid you not. Anyway, being the good sport that he was, after the fight, Kobra announced
there was a big party at the Buffalo Room at the Desert Inn. He even invited the Grasshopper. Boxing is truly a gentleman's sport, which I suppose explains the ring girls, undoubtedly veterans of the Gentleman's Club circuit.
I was in Vegas visiting friends, one from Utah who is quite a fight fan. He was not that impressed that he got to see a fight for the WBC/CA/NAACP/UNLV/EIEIO Superwelterweight Title. Nor was he impressed when Tucsonan Norberto Bravo lost a controversial decision to some Del Santos
dude from Brazil. No, he was impressed with the referees, for not only was Cortez, a ring legend, in attendance, but so was Kenny Beasley, who apparently is known for his rather flamboyant hand gestures in the ring. My friend is weird.
We wrapped up our trip with a screening of "Run Ronnie, Run" at the CineVegas film festival. "Run Ronnie, Run" (which I managed to pronounce as Ron Runnie, Ron all weekend long—and I'm the guy in radio) is the story of Ronnie Dobbs, a young Southern gentleman who made his fame by getting arrested on every episode of Fuzz, which is basically a Cops rip-off. Being that running from the cops is the second most popular sport in the south, behind only NASCAR (oh, the wrestling fan got in a deep south dig—I rock), it seemed perfectly fitting for this column.
"Ron Runnie, Ron" is my new favorite comedy. David Cross and Bob Odenkirk are outstanding. Sadly, it can't get distribution, even though it ranks favorably with any Hollywood comedy released in some time. I'm sure Brad can provide a conspiracy theory as to why the release has been placed on hold. Perhaps it will involve George Bush, Sr.'s connections to the CIA and the use of Don King's hair as a conduit to communicate with extraterrestrials.