Sports business conspiracy?

This past Saturday night was the 2010 NBA All-Star Saturday Night skills competition including the Slam-Dunk Contest. This is a very popular event throughout the world and is usually wildly entertaining for sports fans. The winner of the dunk contest was to be decided by fan voting through the NBA.com website or through text messaging. The finalists for the competition were: DeMar DeRozan from the Toronto Raptors and Nate Robinson from the New York Knicks. When it was time to vote for the winner, as a basketball fan, I voted for the DeMar DeRozan of the Toronto Raptors through NBA.com- well, at least I tried to.

For some reason, it gave me an “error-bad gateway” message and would not let me vote. The next day I spoke with many people in Canada and heard of people in the US as well that had the same problem in voting for this particular player. However, some people voted for the other player that plays for New York and it worked without a hitch. Nate Robinson of the New York Knicks ended up winning the dunk contest by a tiny margin (51% to 49%).

It appears to some that there may be a conspiracy here in which the NBA wants the player from New York to win. After all, New York is the largest market in the world for the NBA, the league’s headquarters are located there and it is the hometown of league commissioner, David Stern. There is always talk about the NBA and other major sports leagues preferring the big market teams to have more success. The NBA recently had this notion thrown around them in a book that a disgraced former NBA referee wrote in which he described specific occasions where the league would give the referees hints as to which teams it preferred to win games. The one example I recall off the top of my head favored the big market Los Angeles Lakers to beat the small market Portland Trail Blazers in the playoffs.

I am a big fan of the NBA and I have been following it closely since my childhood so, I hope that this is not true and the NBA has a logical explanation for why their website did not process votes for one player but did for the other. To be clear, it wasn’t all the votes for that player that did not go through, just some. However, I have not heard of anyone being left out of voting for the big market New York Knicks player.

For the NBA, it is always more lucrative to have the big market teams be successful because they will earn more money from television licensing, product licensed sales to a larger audience, better TV ratings, etc… On the flip side, if it becomes clear that the league is influencing outcomes of games or All-Star contests then, that would cause irreparable harm to the league so, it likely would not be worth the risk.

Hopefully, concerned fans will receive a good explanation to this issue soon.