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.
SI: Where were you watching Game 6?
Nader: In my office in D.C., and it produced such distaste that I hardly watched Game 7.
SI: Were you rooting for the Kings?
Nader: I'm neither a Kings fan nor a Lakers fan—I root for the Wizards—but [the poor officiating] was blatant. And it reflected a series of themes: You give penalties to the lower players, keep the stars in the game, overlook traveling, just on and on.
SI: Are you implying the NBA tried to engineer the results?
Nader: The referees know where their bread's buttered, and they know that a Game 7 will increase revenues for the league.
SI: How does this relate to your career in consumer advocacy?
Nader: Fans are consumers. As taxpayers they often have to pay for the stadium; then they're heavily overcharged. Soon, if you're not rich, you won't be able to take the family to a game. Ticket prices, parking prices—everything is delivered as a dictate.
SI: Have you seen examples of diminishing fan trust in sports other than basketball?