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Report: Mark Cuban hired former FBI agent to investigate league, referees after 2006 Finals

May 19, 2014, 4:08 PM EDT

Mark Cuban,  Brian Forte AP

In the annals of NBA referee conspiracy theories, the 2006 NBA Finals are up there with the Tim Donaghy betting scandal and a handful of others offered as “proof” by the tinfoil hat crowd that the fix is in and it comes all the way from the top.

In that series an aggressive and attacking Dwyane Wade got a lot of calls as he drove the lane on Dallas, while jump shooter Dirk Nowitzki and the other Mavs didn’t get the calls. Wade was at the line an average 18.3 times per game over the final for games of that series and seemed to get the benefit of the doubt because he was the aggressor.

Mark Cuban was so livid he hired a former FBI Agent to look into if things were fixed.

That according to John Canzano of the Oregonian who did a five-part series on officiating in the NBA.

During the 2006 NBA Finals, Cuban was frustrated after a Game 5 loss to the Heat, and went on the floor to vent to official Joe DeRosa, glaring, too, at Stern in the stands. Earlier that same playoffs Cuban also criticized how the officials are selected for the playoffs. He was fined $450,000 for those two incidents….

Retired FBI agent Warren Flagg, a 20-year veteran of the bureau, said he consulted with Cuban after that playoff debacle. Flagg now runs his own New York-based investigation and security firm. He looked deep into officiating, as Flagg said, Cuban was considering a lawsuit.

“Cuban asked me what he should do,” Flagg said of the 2006 Finals. “I told him, ‘Sue and you’ll win your case,’ but he knew he’d be killing the Golden Goose.”

When asked about his discussions with Flagg, Cuban said: “I don’t remember.”

What did you expect the guy with the investigation business to say, “I couldn’t find anything?” That’s not how he gets paid.

Officiating in the NBA is far from perfect, something these playoffs have clearly shown. Canzano’s series does a great job in looking at both that and the perception problems it creates for the league. Adam Silver is trying to be more transparent with officiating corrections, but there needs to be more public accountability. There is a fantastic part of the series that talks about the power struggles within officiating crews and how that can skew calls. There’s more.

All of that leads to some to make the next leap to conspiracy theory. But just as is the main flaw with almost any conspiracy — the illuminati, the CIA killed Kennedy, Area 51, etc — it counts on large groups with sometimes competing interests plus often inefficient organizations to maintain perfect secrecy and focus on the end game. The league with its owners and all those referees couldn’t do that if they wanted do.

A bad call is just a bad call. If you don’t want to be subject to the whims of calls late, win the game by 20. Otherwise this is just part of the contest.

  1. dirtyjerseysports - May 19, 2014 at 10:05 PM

    FIXED no question #TalesFromTheFix

  2. pfruge - May 20, 2014 at 12:19 AM

    “A bad call is just a bad call” …”this is just part of the contest.”

    Bull crap. Occasional bad calls might be part of the game, but consistent bad calls is bad officiating and a reflection of the league’s tolerance of it.

  3. kiddle420 - May 20, 2014 at 4:26 AM

    Umm dumb writer, I think it’s 2014 and it is no longer a “conspiracy theory” that the illuminati does exist. Way to write for your bosses my friend, but the people are not dumb. Anyhow I do not blame Cuban for wanting to investigate this, let’s not forget this is not the first time a fixed game was revealed to the public. But I can say the same when Dalas beat Miami in the finals.. If you even breathed on Dirk it was a foul, lets not forget he went to the foul line quite a bit that series.. Also I think the Clipper vs OKC series was fixed, some very consistent bad calls in that game mostly against the Clippers. Way to go NBA, let’s not forget the illuminati runs that to ;)

  4. pphins4life12 - May 20, 2014 at 6:02 AM

    I’ll be the first to admit… The mavericks got screwed that series big time. I was in awe that you plan and simple just could not touch Dwayne wade. Funny thing is the touch fouls started from the ECF against the pistons. Dude was shooting I think like 30% from the field. Can’t exactly remember either a little higher or lower but was averaging I think like 32-35 ppg the last 4 games of that series. That’s why he throws a ‘hissy’ fit when he drives and doesn’t get a call.

  5. zackd2 - May 20, 2014 at 12:43 PM

    Ban Cuban for life!!!!

    #sterling

  6. kooland - May 20, 2014 at 1:05 PM

    There’s a reason why most of these sports media guys refute that the NBA is rigged; it hurts their bottom line. And I take offense from this writer’s description of those of us who questions the motive of the NBA and their refs. From this series to the Kings/Lakers series to the Clippers/Thunder series last week, evidence is abound. From the NBA drafts, of 2012 when conveniently after being bought from league, the new owner won the lottery despite having a 13.7% chance; and of 2011 when the Cavaliers receive the first pick via the Clippers after losing Lebron; not to mention a lot of talk of the Ewing draft. I would even go so far as to equate just the fact that star players gets the star treatment questions the integrity of this league.

    • Kurt Helin - May 20, 2014 at 2:31 PM

      You’re saying the League rigged it so the tiny market of Oklahoma City beat the Los Angeles market team? Interesting logic.

      • kooland - May 20, 2014 at 5:44 PM

        Sterling, they wanted him to go away. And OKC may be a small market but they have two superstars and this year’s MVP.

  7. playinj30 - May 20, 2014 at 1:35 PM

    how are you supposed to win by 20 when the opposing team gets 1/3 more free throws (fact) and their star player shoots more free throws than your entire team (Game 5, D-Wade)?

    Go back and look at the tapes. He got calls when no one was even close enough to touch him.

    I have no doubt that ’06 was fixed.

  8. mcsuave - May 20, 2014 at 1:46 PM

    Commissioner ought to sanction and fine Cuban for investigating something which is the commissioners responsibility. If he had negative information, the league may have had to be shut down.

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