Portland Trail Blazers: A whistle-for-whistle look at the “fixed” 2000 Blazers-Lakers Game 7

Scottie Pippen. Arvydas Sabonis, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo credit should read Vince Bucci/AFP via Getty Images)
Scottie Pippen. Arvydas Sabonis, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo credit should read Vince Bucci/AFP via Getty Images) /
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Rasheed Wallace, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo credit should read Vince Bucci/AFP via Getty Images) /

Takeaways and whistles from the fourth quarter of Game Seven:

1. Sort of forgotten now, but to this point, Bonzi Wells was eating Kobe Bryant’s lunch on the low block. Granted, it only led to three or so scoring opportunities, and it was back-and-forth. But it serves as a testament to how easily Wells could get to his spots.

2. Whether or not this was “fixed” or not has been a 20-year debate. But here’s something to think about. The referees weren’t forcing the Blazers to miss their open looks. Or the two heartbreaking misses Wallace had at the line, that would’ve tied the game at 81 apiece with two minutes to go.

3. If you ever wanted to see just how important Arvydas Sabonis is, 1:15:07 is an example, Shaq knows he’s free to double team, since Brian Grant isn’t a shooter. Wallace’s offense halts to a standstill because of it. Throw the Stephen A. Smith meme at Grant. He pump fakes, and not a single eye, including mine; went to the rim. He’s a great role player, but injuries Walton’s alluded to did some damage to him in this one. (See this air ball at 1:21:32)

4. Wish Scottie had taken more than ten shots. You understand it at that age, but maybe it changes fortunes a bit. He later said as such in an ESPN interview.

5. Kobe Bryant took over this fourth. He creates 11 points by himself in the 4th. Portland creates 13 themselves. Yikes.

Analysis of the fourth quarter calls:

  • 37th whistle: Shaq sneaks by the defense, and gets pummeled by Sabonis and Schrempf. I thought this was a bad call, but in favor of the Lakers. By the time of the whistle, O’Neal is in his progression, and trying to shoot. They bring it out sidelines. Because O’Neal is such a poor free throw shooter, there’s benefits to both sides. We’ll chalk it as such.(1:04:28) — a bang-bang call.
  • 38th whistle: Rick Fox picks up a personal trying to guard Bonzi Wells in the post. Boy, is he a handful. (1:05:15). A good call. 
  • 39th whistle: Will never understand why Sabonis lets O’Neal so deep into the purple, even with it being on the right block instead of the left. O’Neal spins, and credit Kobe for seeing this. (1:05:58). Sabonis complains, but hands around the neck area disagree. You’re on camera, Sabos. — A good call. 
  • 40th whistle: Bonzi takes Fox for a dance, gets him out on the perimeter, and drives in, drawing a foul. Not much to it, a good call. (1:06:50)
  • 41st whistle: Lakers turn a long rebound into a fast break. Bryant leads the way, and Wells hits him from behind to force a miss. Nice respect from the two right after. (1:09:40). 
  • 42nd whistle: A horrendous call here, from Hugh Evans. Shaq drops a Shawn Michaels-type elbow at Arvydas Sabonis’ shoulder. Foul on Arvydas Sabonis shoulder. Biggest foul of the game to this point, the fifth on Sabonis, which means bench. (1:11:05).
  • 43rd whistle: The 2000 NBA MVP is coming out. Shaq snags a great, contested, offensive rebound, and it leads to two free throws. Rasheed initially argues it, but knows the truth. It’s a decent call. (1:11:57). Blazers in the penalty.
  • 44th whistle: Kobe Bryant rides Steve Smith towards the baseline. You see it in real time, and the reverse angle does the same for us. 1:13:00 — A good call.
  • 45th whistle: As the Blazers offense tries to thaw itself, Wallace draws a foul fighting for post position. Nothing new. A good, redemptive call for Hugh Evans. (1:13:42)
  • 46th whistle: The Lakers move the ball around and find Horry, who takes to the basket, but can’t get around guess who? Scottie Pippen. A bang-bang call for sure. (1:15:24).
  • 47th whistle: As soon as Sabonis comes in, the Blazers score. Next possession down, foul. His sixth. It’s unfortunate, cause it’s an obvious foul, too. Shaq hits the best free throw I’ve ever seen him take. (1:20:05) — A good call. 
  • 48th whistle: Wallace, after finally seeing one go in, gets back to work again. He gets Horry deep, and Shaq blocks it, but a second too late. Goaltending. (1:22:10).
  • 49th whistle: Kobe forces the issue here off Pippen’s poor close out, and draws a foul on Wallace: — A good call. (1:22:40).
  • 50th whistle: A foul on Shaq, trying to cut off a cutting Wallace down the left baseline. Two free shots for Wallace, whose now 12-for-25. Refs can’t be blamed for him missing two big free throws.
  • 51st whistle: An intentional foul (1:27:44). Blazers down 85-82, and trying to get the ball back.
  • 52nd whistle (and no-whistle): Should be mentioned here; an egregious no-call on a Steve Smith layup at 1:30:59. He gets clobbered. The Blazers have to foul, too. One of the worst no-calls in league history. Has to be.
  • 53rd whistle: Another miss and a desperation foul from Portland. (1:33:10). A good whistle.
  • 54th whistle: Another intentional foul for Portland. Los Angeles is clanking free throws, but Portland can’t take advantage. (1:34:30).

Calls benefiting the Lakers: 33

Calls benefiting the Blazers: 25

Score: Portland Trail Blazers, 84; Los Angeles Lakers, 89

After watching this game, of you asked me if I believed this game was rigged, I might not see that being the case. But, I would certainly understand why someone would say as such. There were 13 “non-good” calls, and eight of them went against the Portland Trail Blazers. At game’s end, here’s how the final tally looked.

Next. Six surplus seasons of Sabonis: How does Portland's fate turn out?. dark

Bad calls: 5 (4 hurt the Blazers, 1 hurt the Lakers)

Bang-bang calls: 3 (0 hurt Blazers, 2 hurt Lakers, 1 hurt neither)

Inconclusive calls: 5 (4 hurt the Blazers, 1 hurt the Lakers)