Conspiracy theories and salacious rumors are just as prevalent in sports, both professional and college, as they are in politics and entertainment. Whether your team lost on a strange last play, or the team you bet on looked like it took a dive, the money and competitive nature of sports make it a natural breeding ground for unsubstantiated myths to take hold. There are tons of sports conspiracy theories floating around out there, but which ones do you believe?
From sexy sports scandals to Michael Jordan's "flu" and more than a few boxing matchups that ended suspiciously, there's a sports conspiracy for almost any big game you can think of. These crazy sports theories, urban legends, and rumors all took place in the sports world, and some just might be true.
One of the most controversial endings in sports history, the US Men’s Basketball team lost to the Soviet team in the Finals of the 1972 Olympics, with Russia getting three chances to score a winning basket.
A combination of unclear rules, seemingly random clock stoppages and bizarre referee decisions gave the Soviet team enough chances to win 51-50, kicking off 40 years of accusations and denials, with the American team never having accepted their silver medals.
Ever since NBA referee Tim Donaghy went public with his involvement in gambling and on influencing the outcome of games, sports writers and fans have had concrete evidence to back up what they’ve suspected all along: that the league is rigged to allow the best teams to make the most money, with lucrative playoff series being extended and star players being earmarked for major franchises.
It was Donaghy who first stated outright that the infamous Game 6 of the 2002 Western Conference Finals was fixed to extend the series and keep the Lakers alive. Of course, Donaghy himself has put himself in a position to profit from this rigging, selling betting tips and keeping himself in the news.
Did the NBA conspire to keep the Los Angeles Lakers from getting knocked out of the NBA playoffs in 2002? Game 6 of the series has widely been accused of being rigged in order to keep TV ratings high. And on the surface, it’s plausible. A rash of free throws coming off of questionable fouls gave the Lakers the chance to build an insurmountable lead while forcing top Sacramento Kings players out of the game.
However, the Lakers still had to actually hit their free throws – something even a crooked ref can’t do. Also, it was only Game 6, with no guarantee that the Lakers would win a Game 7.
Long one of the most popular rumors in NBA history, the Patrick Ewing frozen envelope theory has the league rigging their draft lottery (long thought to be crooked) to get the biggest college star to the team in the biggest market, a flailing franchise that desperately needed a superstar.
Then NBA Commissioner David Stern has always laughed off the rumor that his league fixed the lottery, and New York getting the first pick in 1985 is just one of many longshot draft lottery happenings – all of which are next to impossible to prove.