Is Ayesha Curry Right?

Is Ayesha Curry Right?

Is Ayesha Curry Right?

For those of you into reality television, do yourselves a favor and tune in Sunday night for the season finale of the year's most dramatic television series. Game 7 of the NBA Finals. Following a record-setting, 73-win season and leading the series 3-1, NBA MVP Steph Curry's Golden State Warriors find themselves on the brink of elimination thanks to the back-to-the-wall heroics of LeBron James, whose Cleveland Cavaliers evened the series and stole all the momentum Thursday night in Cleveland. For the high-drama fan, Game 6 had it all. Conflict. (Arguably the league's two best players, who play vastly divergent styles, squaring off.) Trash talking (Lebron James' emotion-fueled, cathartic scream in Steph Curry's face). Stare downs (Steph Curry's finger-pointing "we'll see” laser stare after being ejected at the end of Game 6, with LeBron under his skin the whole way). Jay-Z and Beyoncé cameos (Self-explanatory). If that weren't enough, everything got amped to 11 Thursday night after Steph Curry's wife, Ayesha, tweeted that the NBA was "absolutely rigged"after a series of highly questionable foul calls and no-foul calls went against Steph Curry in the second half on Cleveland's home court on the path to the Cavalier's second straight win of the series. Now, for casual sports or non-NBA fans, what makes this all so compelling is the genuine human emotion behind all this. First and foremost, LeBron James and Steph Curry are excellent representatives of the NBA and ambassadors of pro sports in general. They are both seemingly, genuinely outstanding fathers and citizens. Neither of them are the trash-talk, stare down types they've occasionally become in this series. This series is all about competition and the raw explosion of emotion it creates. Emotion that, try as one might, can't always simply be contained or managed. But containing and properly channeling that emotion is the key to prevailing in a tug-of-war slugfest like the one on display here. Unless, of course, Ayesha Curry is right and it's all fixed. It's hardly just last night's officiating that has fueled similar speculation of the fix being in amongst some fans. Golden State was in serious trouble last series against the Oklahoma City Thunder when one of the Warrior's best players, Draymond Green, struck an Oklahoma City Thunder player in the groin with his foot. Many thought Green's actions were intentional and that he should have been suspended for the next game.  But the league decided to let him play and the Warrior's came back and won that series after it looked like they had no hope. Then in Game 4 of the Cavs series, Draymond Green was again involved in a groin incident when he took a swipe at LeBron James, who let his emotion get the best of him when he stepped over Green who had fallen down. A tangle (LeBron's actions were widely viewed as a "Dis" move on his part). The tables were then turned on Green, when he was suspended for the incident with James in yet another controversial decision by the league, given James' actions that precipitated Green's response and the fact that the Warriors looked poised to win the Finals in 5 games at that point, thereby depriving the league and network of two additional, multi-million viewer Games 6 and 7. James did his part to take advantage of Green's suspension and fuel the conspiracy speculation, by exploding for a 41-point triple double performance in Game 5 and riding that momentum to another 41-point outing in Game 6 to set up the must-see reality television event of the Year. So is Ayesha Curry right? Is the NBA "absolutely rigged?”  As a devout believer that most, if not all, reality TV is highly manipulated, in a word, no. At least not in the way Ayesha Curry implied in her tweet, which she quickly deleted by the way. While I think it's impossible to argue that the officiating and league decisions are not a factor here, at the heart of all of these decisions and consequences beats the intensity of the player emotion that is unleashed by competitors operating at the elite level. When the players can't contain it, it's up to the officials and the league to manage that emotion. Sometimes that means punishment. Other times that means understanding. It's complicated by nature. Therefore any decisions are going to carry a certain amount of contrarianism, and I think the officials and league are simply doing the best job they can to weigh and account for the multitude of factors at play in a high-emotion drama.  But that's part of what makes it all so juicy. So Sunday night, sit back, strap in and enjoy what looks to be a wild ride to glory for either a record-season defending champion or a city who hasn't won a major league championship in 52 years. If that's not dramatic reality television, I don't know what is.