Like It or Not, Our Championships Will be Tainted

Published: June 17, 2012

On June 23rd, 2017 the confetti will come down in the Arena as Commissioner Adam Silver hands the trophy to New Orleans Brass owner Tom Benson before he passes it on to Coach of the Year Monty Williams and Finals MVP Anthony Davis. Fans will be going crazy in Champions Square, and the talk in bars up and down Bourbon Street will be of the impending dynasty that we are all about to witness. Unfortunately, I fear that the national narritive will be much different.

If we are to make anything of this week’s Jim Rome/David Stern verbal tickle fight, it is that this “conspiracy” talk will be a black cloud hanging over the franchise- a cloud that will only be done away by irrelevance. If the Hornets/Brass/Angels remain an irrelavent team there is no need to worry about the ‘Stern CP3 Veto’ or ‘Stern Lottery Fix’ being brought up by radio shock jocks or sensational journalists masquerading as “reporters.” But once they start to win, and win big, rest assured that we will be forced to listen to these uninformed media members resurrect these non-stories from the past in an effort to get page clicks and podcast downloads.

And if you think that time will pass and people will let go, then obviously you have not followed the NBA narrative for the past thirty years. It’s 2012, and people still talk about the fact that Stern fixed the 1985 lottery as if it is fact. According to some, the only reason the Houston Rockets were two-time champions in the mid-90’s was because Commissioner Stern forced MJ to take a hiatus after some issues with gambling. Enter the next great conspiracy once the Hornets start winning big at the end of this decade.

In all honesty, it is not exactly a lose-lose situation, as much as it might seem that I am making it out to be. Fans of other teams will cry, bitch, and moan about the events that transpired in 2011 and 2012, while New Orleans fans hold up their middle fingers to the rest of the country in defiance. Winning a title that some claim is not 100% legit is not a bad problem to have. But it is not ideal, either.

First, let’s be clear about what we are talking about when we say ‘tainted.’ In this situation, we are talking about when people use it to say that something is: affected with a bad or undesirable quality. So for a championship not to be tainted, it must have been attained in such a way that nobody can claim that anything about the way that the team pursued and captured trophy was anything less than flawless in the eyes of the every member of the public. When you look at it that way, nearly every championship is tainted- but there are levels.

Level One: Did Nothing Wrong, A Victim of Circumstance

This usually happens when a team wins a title in a year when a major injury occurs. Doc Rivers points out that that Boston Starting 5 never lost a series in which all five guys played the entire series. KG was out the entire 2009 playoffs because of injury, and Kendrick Perkins missed Game 7 of the NBA Finals in 2010 because of injury. Did this taint the Lakers back-to-back titles in any way? Some say yes. The Houston Rockets did nothing wrong in the mid-90’s, it just so happens that their titles came during the 18 month hiatus of the greatest player on the planet. The 1999 Spurs also fit into this level, winners of a title in a 50-game strike shortened season that was in no way their fault.

Level Two: Guilt by Association

This level has more to do with public perception than anything else. There is no smoking gun, no facts, but a large amount of people just assume guilt here and therefore question the legitimacy of the title. Lance Armstrong is a perfect example, as we have no concrete evidence that he participated in any wrong doing, but the sport has seen rider after rider test positive and the whispers grow louder every year.

Level Three: Breaking Unwritten Rules

Often times people mistakenly believe that Major League players were breaking the rules when they took PED’s, but there actually weren’t any rules in place at the time that banned Mark McGwire or Sammy Sosa from loading up on anabolic steroids. Was it frowned upon, and even in some cases, illegal? Yes. But were they breaking any major league rules? No. Some people want to question the legitimacy of the Red Sox titles now that it seems all but certain that Manny and Big Papi took PED’s, but you can’t break a rule that isn’t written down.

Level Four: Intentionally Bending the Rules

Sorry Saints fans, but we gotta go there. SpyGate and BountyGate will forever hang clouds over the titles of the Patriots and Saints, respectively. Both teams engaged in practices that were frowned upon by the league, both in the ways that teams should morally conduct themselves and in the plain black and white language of the law. By engaging in these practices, they gave themselves unfair competative advantages that might have (or might not have) been the difference in winning their titles.

Level Five: Intentionally Breaking Rules and/or Sabotaging Opponents

College Football has a list of these types of champions a mile long, in large part due to the fact that everyone intentionally breaks the rules and eventually some are going to get caught. As for the sabotaging opponents, it’s more rare, but we can all remember this attempt. 

When the Hornets win it all, there will be people labeling it a level two or three, citing Stern’s involvement in the CP3 trade and the “suspicious” lottery win that was not televised for the world to see. Never mind that every team involved in the lotto had a representative in the room and an independent company handled the lotto balls, that’s not good enough! The world needs to see the balls come up with their own eyes, then they need to physically handle each lotto ball to make sure they are not weighted, test their temperature, and who knows what else.

Some will make their comments in jest, while others will exaggerate the events that took place in the hope that they elicit outrage from their readers/listeners. It is sad, because no matter how hard we try to educate others on the way each of these events actually went down, their minds have been made up for them by media members trying to sell a more sensational narrative. So beware Hornets fans, there are millions out there who will make it their mission to try and put a damper on your Bourbon Street Championship Parade. Pay them no mind, however, for all they possess is ignorance while the city of New Orleans relishes yet another championship trophy.


  1. SP

    June 17, 2012 at 6:45 am

    Well put Michael,

    This is most definitely going to be a good problem to have which you pointed out.

    This is only going to matter if we win, and if that’s the case, who really cares?

    Ask anyone who was on the ’99 Spurs whether they feel their championship is at all tainted, the consensus response will be no.

    As we’re seeing throughout these playoffs, it takes so much to go all the way, if we ever manage to do it, I’ll be too happy to care what media has to say.

    That’s just me though…

  2. m_W

    June 17, 2012 at 6:49 am


    • buzz

      June 17, 2012 at 5:12 pm

      Exactly, meh.

      if they don’t bitch about stern, they’ll find another reason to bitch. its why I don’t pay any attention to most media outlets.

  3. Tim

    June 17, 2012 at 8:09 am

    Unnecessary blog that doesn’t even need to be talked about..especially at this stage. Move along…nothing to see here.

    • Chad R

      June 17, 2012 at 10:24 am

      Completely disagree. Anybody who is a Saints fan knows how much of a punch in the gut it has been the last few months, going from a Super Bowl victory that we all could be proud of to one we now have to defend.

      To me, I can see a scenario in which people try to discredit Hornets titles in the same way some try to discredit the Saints championship, and knowing this is going to happen in advance will make it easier to deal with.

      • Tim

        June 17, 2012 at 1:28 pm

        Well if you’re at all familiar with NBA history, history will tell you that many championships should have been “tainted”. For far more corrupt reasons then a “fixed” draft. But guess what…they weren’t. And IF we get to the point of winning one, ours won’t be either. At will taste just as sweet as any other teams NBA championship. And focussing on this negativity before our number one pick ever even suits up is a stupid waste of time. Especially when we should be rejoicing, enjoying, and talking strategies and realistic ventures of getting that championship. Sigh…even responding to this is a waste of time. Point is, when we win one, it will be great. And no less valuable then anyone else’s. The end. Happy Fathers day to all, now lets talk about something positive.

      • nola hustle

        June 18, 2012 at 9:53 am

        Do you feel any less amazing about the saints championship? We know they earned it, were not dirty players, etc.

        I still feel warm and fuzzy thinking about it?

        Who the he!! cares what jim rome says or some sports nut in boston or minnesota thinks?

  4. 504ever

    June 17, 2012 at 9:19 am

    “And if you think that time will pass and people will let go, then obviously you have not followed the NBA narrative for the past thirty years. It’s 2012, and people still talk about the fact that Stern fixed the 1985 lottery as if it is fact. According to some, the only reason the Houston Rockets were two-time champions in the mid-90′s was because Commissioner Stern forced MJ to take a hiatus after some issues with gambling. Enter the next great conspiracy once the Hornets start winning big at the end of this decade.”

    I have never heard anyone on TV talk about any of this, or the Spur’s championships being tainted by the way they acquired Tim Duncan. And I watch TV sports talk shows all the time.

    The Stern conpiracy “dust up” happened on radio, where crazy sound bites are a must. But it didn’t just happen on any radio show; it happened on Jim Rome’s. You know the guy who called Jim Everett “Chris Everett” to his face and almost got the sh** knocked out of him by Jim Everett on air. The guy who had his “Rome is Burning” TV show cancelled by ESPN. The guy who is fighting to prove he is still relevant, and losing because of such desparate acts as calling a lottery drawing witnessed by dozens of people, including NBA execs, rigged, and doing it to Stern’s face.

    Not only do I predict no one will bring up a five year old non story about a 2012 draft conpiracy, but I predict Rome will no longer have a national radio show by 2017. I say that will be the fallout of the ‘Rome-Stern conspiracy conversation’.

    • Chad R

      June 17, 2012 at 10:28 am

      Not saying this in a rude way, but how old are you? I think these two conspiracy’s are very familiar to basketball fans 30 and over, and while they might not be as talked about as much anymore, you gotta consider yor source. Do you watch a lot of ESPN?

      ESPN is in bed with the NBA and can’t afford to risk their relationship by, say, doing a 30 for 30 on the Jordan forced retirement conspiracy. This is why you only hear this kind of stuff come up on radio, online, etc. because ESPN has hundreds of millions of dollars invested in the NBA as a product and therefore have no desire to tarnish it.

      • 504ever

        June 17, 2012 at 11:05 am

        LOL! Old enough to have lived through all of those “conspiracies” and old enough to have watched all of Jim Everett’s years with the Saints. And I watch lots of sports talk shows not on ESPN.

        I think you misread what I wrote. Michael Mc said “people still talk about” all of these old conpiracy theories. I was pointing out they don’t still talk about them, and saying no one will talk about the Hornet’s draft one in five years. I wasn’t saying I never heard of them.

        Question for you. How can you do a piece on a conpiracy story that has no evidence to back it up? The answer is you can’t.

        As for ESPN and the Michael Jordon forced retirement theory. Don’t you remember Michael’s dad being killed for a Lexus Michael had just bought for him, possibly making his dad a crime target? Think it didn’t shake Michael up? Make Michael rethink what was important in his life? That happened the summer of 93 before Michael’s ‘first’ retirement prior to the 93-94 season!

        Rather than take shots at me, or pile a crazy ESPN domino on the conspiracy theory, I’d prefer you actually address what I wrote above.

  5. Eric

    June 17, 2012 at 11:14 am

    great article written on a nets blog about eric gordon…a good read

    • nola hustle

      June 18, 2012 at 9:56 am

      this the kind of stuff I want to read about, not the negative garbage. thought we just came out from under the cloud?

  6. Dom

    June 17, 2012 at 11:26 am

    It’s not like Anthony Davis is the 2nd coming. He’s a good young talent. But not a shaq.

  7. Jordan J.

    June 17, 2012 at 11:29 am

    Very Bill Simmons-esque.

  8. Everett

    June 17, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    You’ll never please everyone. I say screw ’em.

    • Jason Calmes

      June 17, 2012 at 12:56 pm


      • Everett

        June 18, 2012 at 10:41 am

        Yup, as long as they spell our name right on the trophy, I don’t care. That being said, once we start to get on TV more and folks around the country see our passion for the game, we’ll probably get love nationally just like the Saints.

  9. Jason Calmes

    June 17, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    The pursuit of perfection is noble-to-psychotic, depending, but expecting it is just silly and suburban.

    “Gimme the prize and shut the hell up” will be my message to the world. That and something I said once before here.

    Good read.

  10. JT's Hoops Blog

    June 17, 2012 at 1:10 pm

    Conspiracy or not, I think the Hornets getting the number one pick was well deserved. Fans had to not only deal with their two best players jumping ship as well as tell that the Hornets will be folding or moving somewhere else. Now with the number one pick and new ownership guaranteeing that the Hornets will stay in the Big Easy, at least the team has a chance to become financially viable unlike previous years. If there were any shenanigans, they had good intentions as Stern probably wanted to improve competitive balance between the powerfull big market teams and the strugling smaller markets.

  11. Karl

    June 17, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    The first thing I noticed was New Orleans Brass owner. Is there a reason why the author thinks that will be the name? If the name changes, I much prefer that over Angels or Spirit.

    • nola hustle

      June 18, 2012 at 11:12 am

      actually it’s going to be the new orleans hustlers

      • m_W

        June 18, 2012 at 11:36 pm

        Actually, it will be da Hu$tler$.

  12. NOH2313

    June 17, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    Couldn’t care less.

    There are complainers all the time. No matter who wins. That’s what comes with success. And that’s when you know you’re doing something right.

    Good read, but nothing worth worrying about. Looking forward to dominating in a few short years.

  13. nikkoewan

    June 17, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    Good , measured article. Nobody deserves to get a #1 overall pick and if people understood how the lottery goes down and who are involved instead of cherry picking details, then Hornets won it fair and square. That’s not the case.

    On the question of taintedness, there will be writers/bloggers/etc but it won’t cause much of a ruckus to taint our 2017 NBA Championship parade.

  14. Zombian

    June 17, 2012 at 6:48 pm

    I would like to throw out there that in the event of the touted CP3 return it would taint a championship even further. Think of it. CP3 leaves, we tank, we get the “suspicious” 1st overall pick, we get an owner, CP3 returns, and we compete for a championship? I think the league would blame Stern/CP3/Hornets for what could be perceived as unfair.
    I, of course, would see no wrong doing but fans of any teams The Hornets knock off on their way there would cry foul immediately. You’re right Michael, people will always try and find an exception as to how championships are won, and if we won under that pretense I’m afraid we’d get a lot more guff. That’s where my inner Laker fan would manifest and respond with a cold, “You’re just jealous your team isn’t winning”.

  15. David

    June 17, 2012 at 7:31 pm

    Two thoughts:

    1.) i really don’t give a damn what other fans think

    2.) 2017? I think you may be a couple years behind my friend 🙂

  16. J

    June 17, 2012 at 8:01 pm

    I know this is off the topic what you guys think of Jeff Green return or joining the hornets or other teams.Back on this topic the only way it’s tainted my the media and outside fans thinking.As longs the Skip Bayless’s,Stephen A.Smith’s,Michael Wilborn’s,Colin Cowherds,Peter Kings and Jim Romes of the world are still around we’ll still be bashed,hated and trashed no matter what.As Saints, Hornets or Brass or Angels or whatever fans we’ll always be in the fight we’ll never go down. Katrina,oil spills,bounties,easedropping or so called draft lottery rigging will not bring us down i’ll be damned for that to happened.I’ll tell you this our sports teams will kick the damn door and never leave till we whats ours title (Hornets) and more titles (Saints) can i get an amen!!!.

  17. da ThRONe

    June 17, 2012 at 8:33 pm

    Pardon my French, but who gives a s***?

    If we win the Larry O’Brien trophy that banner chills in our house regardless of who doesn’t like it or have something to say!

    • nikkoewan

      June 18, 2012 at 2:59 am

      sorry LOL’d at the Pardon my French HAHAHAHA

      • da ThRONe

        June 18, 2012 at 8:11 am

        Yeah I try to be some what “PC” over the internet these days.

        There was a time I’d probably beat myself up for saying something like that. Lol

        However the point remains the same. On a side note how would even a full blown bounty system give the Saints a “competitive advantage”? Especially considering there’s no evidence that it lead to an increasingly aggressive team.

  18. NOLA_Fredo

    June 18, 2012 at 1:28 am

    Michael, you forgot about some other “conspiracy” theories that tainted potential championships. Stuff like:

    – The Lakers stole Pau Gasol from the Grizzlies (nevermind his brother Marc becoming one of the best big men in the game today).

    – Stern let Bennett steal the Sonics/Thunder from Seattle. (Wait, this one might be true).

    – The NBA not suspending Robert Horry after he nailed Steve Nash in 2007 (Spurs went on to win it all).

    In some small way, this is what makes the NBA so much fun. It’s not just the on-the-court game, but all the stuff that goes alongside. The rumors of fixed lotto balls; Stern acting as an old-school Don; the goofball owners and idiot GMs who they keep hiring and rehiring; players mugging and acting all tough and on and on. It’s all part of the tapestry of the NBA.

  19. Chuck

    June 18, 2012 at 1:34 am

    Honestly, I don’t care.

    You say that Bountygate has tainted the Saints Super Bowl. But no matter what happens, it won’t change the memories of following the team that year, or the sheer blind debilitating happiness when Tracy Porter intercepted the quarterback demigod Peyton Manning and took it to the house to seal it and I knew at that moment “holy sh*t, we just beat the Colts, that’s it, we won the Super Bowl, it actually f*cking happened!!!” All the Falcons and Pats and whoever fans can say that it’s tainted but any Saints fan doesn’t care if it was tainted, I still have the memories.

    It will be just as sweet when Anthony Davis is blocking the potential game tying layup from Derrick Rose in 2018, then get the ball and throws it into the rafters as confetti rains down and he jumps up and down in unijoy.

    Stern talked with Wilbon during halftime of today’s game, and he basically said that they have a process, each team is present at that process, media members are present at that process, and they even wrote about it. It’s not rigged. If people still don’t believe you after that, then what can you do, he won’t lose sleep over it. I completely agree, some people will never be happy.

    • m_W

      June 18, 2012 at 11:34 pm

      Yeah, I second that. NO WAY the Saints championship is tainted. We weren’t even the most penalized team for unnecessary roughness. We were doing LEGAL things to win games. Every team tries to knock out opposing players.

      But, this being the NBA, there will always be conspiracy theories. I can tell you how many $h!t$ PJax, Pop, or Rockets give about those. They got rings. Point blank, period, end of story.

  20. Michael McNamara

    June 18, 2012 at 11:12 am

    Game 3 of the 2012 NBA Finals and the Patrick Ewing lottery gets brought up. Not Jim Rome, not some random blog- national television and the most watched game of the year.

    For all of you saying that you won’t care, then bravo for you because you are more mature than most. In my opinion, a big part of what makes the sports fan excited/happy, whatever, is the recognition of achievement by others. When they don’t get it or feel disrepected, they label everyone else a “hater”, spends hundreds of hours on message boards sticking up for their team, telling the haters why they are wrong, etc.

    If you are all telling me that if and when we win a title and the media/other fans start “hating”, that we will all just ignore it and be happy in our little bubble- then I am truly proud of our fan base. It would be like no other in the world. Honestly, I hope this is the case, but history makes me doubt it.

    • Jason Calmes

      June 18, 2012 at 11:22 am

      When I was driving back to town after the Super Bowl, my buddy and I were LIVID at the lack of ‘due’ given to our boys from the national media.

      Sure, you can’t please everyone. It does, however, make me righteously indignant.


    • 504ever

      June 18, 2012 at 11:35 am


      But did they say the Ewing #1 pick to the Knicks was a conpiracy? Say it tainted the all of the Knicks seasons with Ewing?

      It is a fact that Ewing was taken #1 by the Knicks. It is a fact that some lottery winning teams are more improbable than others! But that doesn’t make any of them conpiracy! Or make these events taint future seasons.

      • Michael McNamara

        June 18, 2012 at 1:39 pm

        That’s the point- the Knicks never won a title, so it is just a joke that people laugh at when they talk of the conspiracy. If they would have won 6 titles like MJ, we would have heard a lot more.

        This is probably my fault for not making this post more clear, and/or putting it out at a time when all anybody wants to hear about is trades and rumors, but the point of this piece was not to be negative, but rather to say that if you think that we have had to endure rediculous innuendo about the CP3 trade and the lottery since they have occurred, then just wait until we start winning big.

        Just trying to cut it off at the pass so nobody is surprised when it bubbles up down the road, but I guess that is not the kind of thing people want to read about- so more candy and lollipops next week!

  21. 504ever

    June 18, 2012 at 1:47 pm


    I get that, but think it will come up differently. In the vein of how Stern helped us by vetoing the first trade so we sucked enough to have a reasonable shot at the 2012 lottery, which came through, and got the 10th pick from Minn., too. And how we got Gordon, which will hopefully work out long term, and cleared Kaman’s cap space. I expect it to be more factual than conpiratorial.

  22. Bonaparte

    June 18, 2012 at 4:28 pm

    This is silly – were the Knicks’ titles tainted after they landed Ewing?

    How about the Magic after landing Shaq against insane odds?

  23. @tomfoolery28

    June 18, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    To all the NBA conspiracy theorist out there: take the tinfoil off your head and move out of your parent’s basement.

    To all the NBA conspiracy theorist that will call our championship “tainted”: Kiss our championship banner.

  24. jmbell

    June 18, 2012 at 10:03 pm

    To me they’re going to be legitimate championships… all 10 of them 😉

  25. poot

    June 19, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    is the NBA is paying you off to say this?

    “…every team involved in the lotto had a representative in the room and an independent company handled the lotto balls, that’s not good enough!”

    did David Stern write that for you?

    Do you realize that the “independent company” that handled the lotto balls is the exact same company that audited Bernie Madoff for years and found “NOTHING SUSPICIOUS?” You do realize, don’t you, that these buffoon are unable to recognize billions of non-existant dollars on a balance sheet and yet are supposed to be experts at determining the legitmacy of ping-pong ball drawings. This is not suspicious to you?

    Also the “representative” from each team… is not the same representative we see at the show (ie, Byron Scott.) Who is the mystery representative who gets to see the balls drawn? Surely not somebody above being paid off. Or someboday with the authority to stand up and say “that ping pong ball did not have a Hornets logo!” Nothing shady about this either…

    no offense to you all, I like the Hornets and I think it’s great that they get to rebuild their team so easily after getting killed in the CP3 trade (you know perfectly well if you didn’t get #1 there is no way Gordon would come back.) But your attempt at legitimizing the 2nd most corrupt event in sports (after boxing title fights) is absurd. It takes your credibility to an all time low and you really show retract that part of your article because the rest of it was pretty well written.

    • Michael McNamara

      June 19, 2012 at 4:32 pm

      Exhibit A for those of you who thought I was exaggerting. Check out this guy (Above)

      There are actually real human beings out there with so called brains who believe this stuff, so prepare to hear it again and again when we start winning

      • poot

        June 19, 2012 at 5:05 pm

        please further the discussion instead of deleting posts.
        here i will help you:

        1) Please speak to Earnst&Young (the independent company) auditing the draft lottery. Be sure to explain why their opinion on a 100% undocumented event is legitimate in light of the fact that they audited Bernie Madoff for years and never found any wrongdoing.

        2) Please speak to the “representative from each team” who witnessed the draft lottery. I’d love to hear your take as not ONE of them has been available for comment.

      • Jason Calmes

        June 19, 2012 at 6:31 pm

        poot: prove to me that your liver works. You are not allowed to use the length of your life as empirical evidence. And no doctors can comment.

        By the way, go look at my results-based analysis of the lottery … pick on that one too.

      • so called brains

        June 19, 2012 at 5:12 pm

        gee, my so called brain tells me that there is ONLY ONE reason why the NBA lottery would not be televised, especailly after fans have been clamoring for this the past 25 years and it is the way EVERY OTHER LOTTERY is conuducted.

        “And the winner of tonights California Mega Millions lottery is number 4 12 21 33 54 15. We drew this number behind the scenes, but trust us, there were witnesses…. and the winner is- California State Employees Retirement Fund! what a coincidence, but it’s legit because Madoff’s auditor saw the balls get drawn, so nobody ask any questions ok???”

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