I wish KG would come on the BS Podcast once a month.pic.twitter.com/Vfmf20ReZh
— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) December 18, 2019
Kevin Garnett made headlines recently for his appearance on Bill Simmons’ podcast, where he didn’t cut corners when explaining the bad blood between the Celtics and the Heat during the last few years of his tenure in Boston. Simmons specifically asked KG about the 2012 season, recalling the aging Big Three pushing LeBron and the new Big Three to seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals before eventually falling short.
Garnett was quick to remind Simmons that it was the Celtics who drove LeBron out of Cleveland in 2010, which is fairly common knowledge among basketball fans. But what he touched on next was something that hasn’t been discussed nearly enough in the past seven years. The NBA rigged the shit out of the 2012 playoffs to ensure that LeBron got his first ring. The face of the league aka the “next Michael Jordan” was nine years into his career, had zero championships, and was coming off a Finals loss to a far less talented Mavericks team after guaranteeing “not seven, not eight” titles at that infamous pep rally. The Celtics were old, the Kobe era was starting to wind down, and the biggest star in the most star-driven league was being labeled as a loser. It was desperation time for David Stern.
When reflecting on the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals, people often point to LeBron’s 45-point performance in the Garden in Game 6 facing elimination. But anyone who actually watched that series in its entirety knows that the real story was the historically disgraceful officiating. The disgustingly biased calls in Games 1 and 2 aren’t focused on nearly enough, which is why KG felt the need to finally break his silence:
“The league knew they had an agenda in which we wasn’t part of the agenda. You understand? Right. And that’s how they ended up winning that series. Yeah, I said it.”
Now before you say “the refs didn’t help LeBron drop 45 in the Garden in Game 6”, understand this. There’s a really good chance that the only reason the series made it to six games was because of crooked referees. The Celtics were colossally screwed in Games 1 and 2. It was actually one of the more obvious fixes in the history of professional sports. Since people seem to forget, here’s a refresher:
Heading into the Conference Finals, the Miami Heat had been whistled for six technical fouls in the playoffs. Their opponents? 23 technical fouls. 23 to 6. Let that sink in.
Things got worse in the ECF. In the first half of Game 1, we witnessed three of the most absurd technicals of all-time, all within minutes of each other in the second quarter. The first came when Ray Allen was called for a bullshit foul, turned away from the ref in disbelief, and was T’d up for simply disagreeing. Then KG got a technical for touching the ball (I’m not making this shit up) following a basket by Rondo, and Doc Rivers got T’d up for saying “Come on Eddie” to referee Ed Malloy after he missed a foul call. Here it is:
Even the announcers were calling out the atrocity, and Stephen A. Smith tore into the league the next day for making their agenda so painfully obvious. Of course ESPN took that segment off their website within 24 hours of it being posted, but thankfully a heads-up Celtics fan was able to capture it on that day seven-plus years ago and share it on his YouTube channel:
In Game 2 it was more of the same. Rajon Rondo has a legendary performance with 44 points, gets hit in the head by Dwyane Wade while going up for a layup in a tie game with less than two minutes remaining in overtime, the refs swallow their whistles, the Heat score on the other end and ride the momentum to a 2-0 series lead:
What happened next was the Celtics won three in a row, which probably should have meant a trip to the Finals because they likely would have taken at least one of the first two games in Miami if it weren’t for the NBA babying Bron Bron. Ray Allen joined the dark side a couple weeks after Game 7 and the rest is history.
Nobody can say for certain how things would have played out if the league didn’t have their agenda, but there’s no doubt that the Celtics were stripped of a fair chance at a title in what turned out to be their last deep playoff run. Garnett has every right to still feel slighted and I’m happy that he finally spoke his mind. That level of corruption should never exist in professional sports.