In The Cheap Seats: Who to believe - a cheating convicted felon or NBA commissioner? Tough choice

By BOBBY "BUTCH" BURNEY, News-Telegram Sports Editor

June 11, 2008 - Here's a tough choice for all NBA fans to make - who do you believe: a convicted felon and cheater or commissioner David Stern?

And no, they are not the same person. Stern has never been convicted of a felon as far as we know.

The felon is disgraced former referee Tim Donaghy. Stern is, well, disgraced commissioner. I wouldn't trust either of them to hold my wallet, but they both want us to believe them. Why would we?

Donaghy has admitted to betting on games he officiated and manipulating fouls to affect the outcome. He now says that league officials directed referees to crack down on some players, lighten up on others and extend at least two playoff series to make more money.

Stern says it's all a lie. But, this is the same commissioner who instituted the draft lottery to keep teams from cheating to LOSE. Stern has been dogged by criticism and conspiracy theories for decades that the league has rigged draft order, manipulated officials and favored a handful of premiere franchises.

Stern's rebuttal has always been, "Where's the proof?"

Now, it appears Donaghy is offering proof, though many people are discounting his claims. Those are the same people who scoffed when Jose Canseco named names in his tell-all book. Who was right then? The scoundrel.

Who's right now? It will be the scoundrel whether it's Donaghy or Stern. There is no other option.

MORE BOGUS CALLS - Giants defensive end Michael Strahan announced his retirement this week and is being hailed as the NFL's single-season sack leader. Wrong.

Strahan was awarded a sack in the fourth quarter of the final regular season game in 2001 against the Green Bay Packers. The fact is, though, it wasn't a sack.

Packers QB Brett Favre for some unknown reason decided to give Strahan the record-breaking sack when he called a handoff to the running back going to the left. Favre then took the snap and ran right, where Strahan was waiting unblocked. Favre slid down and Strahan touched him.

However, it wasn't a sack because a sack is not awarded unless the play is designed as a pass. It was a running play, so no sack should have been awarded.

I lost a lot of respect for Favre that day.

WHAT DO YOU EXPECT - Rangers manager Ron Washington has bemoaned the fact that so many Ranger pitchers have been injured this season. What does he expect? The Rangers traded and signed pitchers who have histories of arm problems. It shouldn't be a surprise so many are hurt - they were all hurt last year, too. ... Has Paul Pierce passed Dwyane Wade as the NBA's poster boy for wimpiness? Pierce was carried off the floor, writhing and gnashing his teeth in pain in Game 1 of the NBA Finals before being wheeled to the dressing room in a wheelchair. Two minutes later, he was back on the court without a limp. It brings to mind Wade being helped off the court in a wheelchair after injuring his shoulder. Quite embarrassing.

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