For years, fans have cried that the NBA is "fixed" or rigged, usually when disputing the outcome of a pivotal playoff game or series. But is there any truth to the notion that the league or officials manipulate games?
There is no evidence of large-scale game fixing orchestrated by the NBA or referees. However, some isolated incidents have fueled suspicion:
Tim Donaghy Scandal - Referee Tim Donaghy bet on and influenced games he officiated in the mid-2000s. He served prison time.
1985 Draft Lottery - Some believe the first lottery was frozen so the struggling Knicks could draft Patrick Ewing.
Game 6 of 2002 Western Conference Finals - Suspect officiating helped extend the series to a Game 7, which the Lakers won.
Draymond Green Suspension in 2016 Finals - Green was suspended by the league in a very pivotal Game 5, swinging the series to Cleveland.
While concerning, these remain more speculative controversies rather than definitive proof. The NBA has strong incentive to avoid scandal and preserve integrity:
Huge Business Incentives - Billions in revenue depend on public trust in fair competition.
Increased Oversight - Increased Oversight - Officiating and league operations are scrutinized more than ever in the internet/social media era.
Serious Legal Consequences - Any proven corruption would lead to massive lawsuits, criminal charges and loss of the league's antitrust exemption.
Ultimately, the NBA is an entertainment product that still delivers authentic competition. While occasional mistakes or questionable decisions occur, no real evidence suggests the games themselves are fixed. Stars, injuries and luck influence outcomes far more than any potential interference. As long as superteams and superstars drive fan interest, the massive incentive will be to avoid any fix that could compromise the NBA's integrity.
In summary, the NBA is extremely unlikely to be broadly "fixed" or scripted. There are certainly imperfect officiating calls made in the heat of intense playoff battles. But the league and referees have too much to lose to ever risk the credibility of the games and championships with any purposeful manipulation. The NBA will continue striving for a level playing field where stars shine brightest.