An open letter to the NBA league office

For those not following the NBA playoffs or Chicago Bulls, go read about the games at ESPN.com or Yahoo! Sports, and this will make much more sense. I submitted this to the league office this evening, and I encourage every person who likes competitive fairness to do the same.

I have never been more disappointed in the NBA, its league offices, and its ability to objectively regulate its players, business, and on-court actions. The double standard applied in the case of Rajon Rondo is deplorable, and has greatly turned me off from your product, brand, and business. I am clearly not alone in this view, as the vast majority of your "fans" (paying customers) outside of Boston now think less of your integrity, objectivity, and ability to provide fairness in your league.

After seeing the malicious actions of Mr. Rondo in Game 6, throwing Kirk Hinrich into the scorer's table with violent intent, then swinging his elbow at Hinrich in a clear intent to batter him, I am so very, very disappointed in everyone involved in your league office who chose not to institute a Flagrant Foul 2 penalty in subsequent review and suspend Rondo for Game 7 (if not longer). His actions, undertaken by other players, both in previous years (Robert Horry) or this year (Dwight Howard), in the playoffs (where the term "intensity" seems to allow for players to get away with endangering your employees (other players)) or regular season, has always been ground for suspension. This argument does not even factor in Rondo's previous dirty play and player endangerment earlier in the series, including hip checking Hinrich with clear intent to injure (causing Hinrich to miss portions of the game and receive stitches), and grabbing Brad Miller's face on a clear break to the basket without coming within three feet of the basketball.
While no one wants to see a playoff series determined by which players aren't playing (I'm sure the league still has nightmares about Phoenix-San Antonio), to not punish a player for a clear transgression does the following:

-makes the player in question feel that their actions are "above the law" and encouraging them to continue their dangerous behavior-makes other players escalate the violence in their on-court actions, as they feel the bar has been lifted

-encourages teams to seek retribution in the form or hard fouls and head-hunting, which no one wants to see (and fortunately the Bulls have shown enough character so far to not take this route)

-shows your "fans" (paying customers) that the league doesn't have competitive fairness as its main interest, which can alienate customers to stop purchasing your product (this customer now included)

-shows youth, both in basketball and other sports, that these types of actions go virtually unpunished, and can actually be rewarded if they lead to your team's victory (as it did in Game 5)
-shows a weak league office that makes the league less in comparison to its peers (the NFL, MLB, etc.)

-leads some to believe that the league is purposefully controlling which teams succeed. While rational individuals do not truly believe that the league is fixing games, and the Donaghy scandal still tastes sour in many people's mouths, it just adds credence to conspiracy theorists, but also places more and more small doubts in the minds of casual fans, who see repeated displays of bias as a sign that the league is not a level playing field

The NBA office needs to carefully reconsider how transparent and just their actions are in regards to these issues, and in the process will benefit your current players, future players, fans/customers, and potential customers. I am so very disappointed in the league's actions, and while I look forward to an exciting Game 7, I know that no matter what the outcome, the NBA has left a very negative impression in my mind and the minds of many others. I expected better from your entire organization.

Adam Kirk Smiley

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