SI Vault
Jamal Greene
June 17, 2002
Last week consumer advocate and 2000 Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader sent a letter to NBA commissioner David Stern protesting what he saw as Lakers-friendly refereeing in Game 6 of the Western Conference finals. In the fourth quarter L.A. took 27 foul shots to the Kings' nine.
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June 17, 2002

Q+a [ralph Nader]

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Nader: Basketball is the most subjective in terms of referees. The NBA is the perfect tyranny. The players and coaches can be wronged by the officials, and they have to shut up or get fined. Translate that into the political arena, and you'd call it a dictatorship.

SI: How big a problem is this relative to other issues of corporate corruption?

Nader: Obviously you don't lose your pension as you did with the Enron scandal, but it's not trivial. People tend to transfer trust from one area to another.

SI: What if David Stem and the NBA ignore you?

Nader: If they don't have a third-party review and admit it was a bad night for the referees, many fans will wonder whether there was a fix. They're risking the expansion of this belief that there was some sort of hanky-panky if they don't clear the air and document it as a night of pure incompetence.

SI: Are you a big sports fan?

Nader: I grew up in Connecticut, so I'm a Yankees fan from a long time ago. My interest in basketball is more recent.

SI: Have you watched any of the Finals?

Nader: No, I've lost my taste for it. Given what you read these days about Enron, Arthur Andersen, breach of trust, greed, gouging and self-dealing, fans are entitled in moments of recreation to expect their games to be decided purely on the merits. Sacramento was defeated by Shaq, Kobe and three referees, a five-man team that's hard to beat.

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