presidential candidate is David Stern's least favorite phone call.
Dan Patrick: How
do you feel about what Tim Donaghy has said about referees manipulating
Ralph Nader: The
question is his credibility. Obviously he has a self-interest after pleading
guilty to his contacts with gamblers. But he's not the only one to raise that.
In the 2002 series between the L.A. Lakers and the Sacramento Kings, it's clear
that the officials favored the Lakers, wanting a seventh game. And David Stern
whitewashed it after a lot of people—from Michael Wilbon, of The Washington
Post, to me—complained. The NBA is really a giant corporate dictatorship. And
the players are fined substantially simply for exercising their rights of free
speech. It's in that context that we have to raise these issues.
DP: Can a sport
RN: I don't think
in this instance that David Stern and the NBA even want to police
DP: In 2002 you
wrote a letter to the commissioner. What response did you get?
RN: After I wrote
the letter, I called him up and I had a conversation with him. He was cordial
but imperious. He indicated that they would review games. And of course, it was
a whitewash. Nobody admitted mistakes.
DP: Why would the
commissioner expose himself to the possibility of fixing games?
RN: Because it
doesn't have anything to do with gamblers. If it did, the outside system of
criminal law would come in. But Stern's got an autocratic domain. And because
the referees are protected by David Stern, there's no accountability. And that
doesn't mean [the commissioner's office] is directly involved. It means that
referees who are favorites of the boss know what the boss would like to