The Dallas Mavericks, Conspiracies & Dwyane Wade’s 97 Free Throws in 2006

Apr 12, 2016; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade (3) talks to referee Derrick Collins (11) during the second quarter against the Detroit Pistons at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 12, 2016; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade (3) talks to referee Derrick Collins (11) during the second quarter against the Detroit Pistons at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports /

On the edge of elimination, the Cavs have everything going their way after fans questions the validity of the NBA. Does this remind Dallas fans of anything?

It was Dwyane Wade‘s second season in the league and Pat Riley makes a move that would change the course of history in Miami…bringing in Shaquille O’Neal. In the summer of 2014, Rilley traded Lamar Odom, Caron Butler and others to bring in O’Neal to pair up with a rising Dwyane Wade.

The league was taken by storm as O’Neal left one duo with Kobe Bryant in L.A to a new duo in Miami with a younger Wade. Suddenly, the Eastern Conference had a duo that could threaten anyone in the league, including the Detroit Pistons.

In their first year together, Miami made it to the Eastern Conference Finals where they lost to the Pistons in seven games. The new super duo of the NBA failed to reach the Finals and a Detroit team with no big superstar, went on to lose in seven games to the San Antonio Spurs.

Then comes the 2005-06 season.

Miami rolled through the Eastern Conference Playoffs, even beating the same Pistons team in six games in the Conference Finals, setting up a head-to-head match up with a Dallas Mavericks team led by Dirk Nowitzki.

Dallas had just completed their own run through the tougher Wester Conference where they beat a Spurs team in seven games in the second round and a Steve Nash led Suns team in the Conference Finals in six games. But Dallas didn’t have the same league-wide appeal as Miami had.

They had a european in Dirk Nowitzki that many people viewed as a soft seven footer who could only score the ball, but was no doubt a star. Outside of Nowitzki, the players who led the team in minutes were Jason Terry, Erick Dampier, Josh Howard, and Marquis Daniels. I bet you have your Dampier jersey on right now don’t you?

Dallas hosted and took Game 1 of the series behind a monstrous game from Jason Terry as he led all scorers with 32 points. It was Dirk Nowitzki’s turn in Game 2 as he posted 26 points and led the Mavs to a 2-0 series lead. The Mavericks had all the momentum.

Suddenly, the glamorous Heat team with Shaquille O’Neal and Dwyane Wade were down two games. Veterans such as Gary Payton, Jason “White Chocolate” Williams, and Alonzo Mourning were looking at their Finals dreams in the distance.

But then everything changed.

It was a different story in Miami as Wade took the series by storm. He attempted 27 free throws and a total of 78 points in both games combined at home to tie the series. It was Game 5 in Miami that got everyone talking.

Wade attempted 25 free throws in Game 5 alone…while the Mavericks attempted 25 as a whole team. Miami finished the game shooting 24 more free throws than Dallas and won the game, giving them a 3-2 series edge.

After the game, ESPN reported Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was fined $250,000 for “going onto the floor to vent directly to official Joe DeRosa, screaming toward Stern and a group of league officials in the stands, then using profanity during a post game session with reporters.”

The Heat went on to win Game 6 in Dallas and Wade attempted 21 free throws on the night. For the complete six game series, Wade attempted 97 free throws! Yes, that’s three less than 100. He attempted an average of 18.3 free throws in the four games after Dallas had went up 2-0 in the series.

Cuban didn’t stop there. John Canzano from the Oregonian reported that Cuban had hired an ex-FBI agent to investigate what had happened in the series.

"Retired FBI agent Warren Flagg, a 20-year veteran of the bureau, said he consulted with Cuban after that playoff debacle. Flagg now runs his own New York-based investigation and security firm. He looked deep into officiating, as Flagg said, Cuban was considering a lawsuit.“Cuban asked me what he should do,” Flagg said of the 2006 Finals. “I told him, ‘Sue and you’ll win your case,’ but he knew he’d be killing the Golden Goose.”"

This 20-year FBI vet found enough evidence that warranted him telling Cuban that if he sued, he would have won the case. But you can imagine the difficult decision that Cuban had in front of him with him owning an NBA franchise and the revenue that followed.

Now the issue of the league trying to control a series is back up for discussion after the complete turnaround in the Finals this year. Looking like the series was over after going up 3-1 in the series, Golden State was hit with a questionable suspension for Draymond Green, a different style of officiating, and watched their MVP get called for questionable fouls that led to him fouling out and getting ejected in Game 6.

The conspiracy theorists are back out in numbers.

Ex-NBA referee Tim Donaghy said what the majority of fans were thinking when the Draymond Green suspension news hit after Game 5. Donaghy told Yahoo last week that the league “forged the Draymond Green suspension to prolong the series, which has been a ratings bonanza.”

Donaghy went on to say ““I think when you look at the overt acts that Green has committed before, they were definitely more severe than this act, and yet he’s going to end up with a flagrant foul and suspension because of it,” Donaghy said. “In the past, I believe it was disregarded because [the Warriors] were down in the series. Here, they’re up in the series, so I think it’s a situation where, with that, it gives Cleveland a better chance of prolonging the series.”

More from The Smoking Cuban

Donaghy, in his book Personal Foul, repeatedly talks about how the league would send down directives to officials before the game telling them who to favor and to help prolong a series or help certain high profiled teams advance. He also talks much about referee’s and their relationships with certain star players, coaches, and owners that impact the way they call games.

This book is a must read for any NBA fan.

Can the NBA rig LeBron and Kyrie’s shots going into the basket? Absolutely not. James and Irving have been remarkable over the past couple of games and you can’t say anything against that. But to say the league has zero effect on the outcomes of games…some would say is simply untrue.