Was The 2006 NBA Finals Between The Heat & Mavs Rigged?

A decade before Steph Curry's wife was accusing the league of fixing the NBA Finals, Dallas fans and conspiracy theorists were screaming "rigged" during the 2006 NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and Dallas Mavs. The controversial series -- won by the Heat in six after being down 2-0 -- was so questionable, Mavs owner Mark Cuban reportedly hired a former FBI agent to look into it.

Via The Oregonian

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."

As a fan of the Heat at that time, I'm not going to complain about the results or complain about Dwyane Wade attempting as many free throws as the Mavs (25) in Game 5 or Wade attempting 21 more in Game 6.

As a best friend of a bookie, I'm not going to say the league is rigged but I will say a lot of money can be made in Vegas if the refs just make an extra call or two in the first half of regular season games. Determining the winner of a game is way too risky and hard to do but slowing the game down with extra foul calls to make sure a team doesn't score a certain amount of points in a half wouldn't be that difficult. Again, I'm not saying the league is rigged but I do want to point out that the average NBA team is worth less than a billion dollars and global sports gambling is worth trillions of dollars; Fantasy Sports is even a $7 billion industry. I'll also mention Joey Crawford, Mike Callahan and Ed Malloy all went to high school with shamed former referee Tim Donaghy.

Anyways, if you want to learn more about why the Oliver Stones of the sports world were so mad at the Big 3 of Wade, Shaq and Bennett Salvatore, you can watch the above video by Mike Korzeemba or check out this post from Reddit user KimboSlice11.

Myth about Dwyane Wade and the 2006 Finals.

Game 3: Mavericks up 83-71 with 8:30 left. A lot of people claim that the refs took over here and helped guide Wade to victory. Up to the 3rd quarter, Wade had shot 15 free throws. In the 4th quarter, Wade shot only 3 free throws, and only 1 free throw within the 8:30 left. So the two other free throws he shot were before the 12 point lead the Mavs had. Not to mention with the game score was 97-95 in favor of the Heat with 3 seconds to go and Dirk gets given 2 free throws. So the Mavs were given a chance to tie the game, and Dirk only hit 1 of 2 free throws to make the score 97-96 in favor of the Heat.

So in actual fact, Wade got no free throws in that 8:30, due to the free throws he received being out of desperation and the Mavs hacking to be able to get another shot off. So a total of 0 shooting fouls were called for Wade in the 4th.

Game 4: 98-74 win for the Heat. Mavs shot 31% and Wade had 9 free throws. Nothing to talk about really. Mavs completely outplayed.

Game 5: This is the game where Wade goes onto shoot as many free throws as the entire Dallas team. 21-25 went Wade and 21-25 went Dallas. Game went into overtime as well. Wade had 22 points going into the 4th quarter. Wade scored 17 in the 4th quarter with the last 6 points all coming from jumpers. Even the game-tying shot was a jumper to level the game at 93-93 with 2 seconds left. No free throws needed. 7 of Wade's 17 points came from FT's. So he basically maintained his average foul shot per quarter rate in the 4th.

Then in the overtime, the score was 100-99 in favor of the Mavs with 2 seconds left and Wade was given 2 free throws. As many of you know, at the time there was great debate as to whether this was a foul or not. The play involved Harris and Nowitzki both hacking Wade and Nowitzki being called for the foul.

That was the play for those who have forgotten. Many people say this wasn't a foul. Now take a look at what happened on this play:

Harris' leg clearly fouling Wade.
Also: Dirk giving Wade a huge shove, just look at the amount of contact.

Not to mention Harris grabbed Wade's other hand on the way to the basket. He didn't just slap it, but grabbed it and didn't allow Wade to have shooting motion. That is a foul even in late game situations. Two players hacking and getting a huge amount of contact. On his leg, one arm and pushing on his back. That has to get called even in the dying seconds.

Harris' grabbing Wade's shooting arm, pretty much not allowing a shot to be attempted.
Game 6: Heat win the championship with a 95-92 win.

Interesting facts:
With this all summed up, there are certain other facts. In this playoff run, Dirk Nowitzki sets a record for must FT's hit during the playoffs shooting 209-229. Wade, on the other hand, shoots 202-250 with both players playing 23 games in the playoffs that year. For a player who is more of a slasher, Wade only managed to get 21 more free throws? So I guess it really is rigged, right?

Furthermore, Wade shot 10 and 14 free throws in the first two games, so it's not like he just got more free throws the next few games. He was already getting to the line a lot.
The total foul count in the series was 146 fouls committed by the Miami Heat and 160 fouls committed by the Mavericks. Fairly equal if anything. Furthermore, it's amazing it was soo close considering the Heat have Shaq and Wade on their team. Wade is a driver who gets a lot of free throws anyway, and Shaq is a guy who teams love to send to the line. Also, the Mavericks were more of a jump shooting teams, with most of their driving coming from Harris and Howard.

Quick facts:
Miami outrebounded the Mavs in 4 of the 6 games in the series. In the 4 games Miami won, they shot better in 3 of those matchups, with the only time they shot worse being by .8 of a %. Miami shot less threes than the Dallas team in 5 of the 6 games. The one time they shot more threes than the Dallas team, they lost.

So just for you doubters, hopefully, you come through and realize that the NBA is not out to make one team win and one team lose.


So how does the star of the 2006 Finals feel about people saying it's rigged. Here's his words via an Instagram post.

There's a lot of coverage on the 2006 NBA Finals right now...One because it was the most controversial finals to date and today makes exactly 10 years to the date we won our first ever title as an organization and me as a player. It was one of the greatest moments in my life and probably one of the worst for the Dallas Mavericks. That's sports... we've all had our moments to feel both ways. Now what I'm reading about the series is unfair to me as a basketball player. Did I get some calls that I could have played through YES. We all do...but was I attacking every time I touch the ball...YES. This picture is an example of a play in game 5 that everyone said I didn't get fouled on. Listen most athletes have never committed a foul but D Harris my guy...this is a foul haa. All in all we did find a way to beat a team that was a much better team then us that season...but they got their payback in 2011 as a franchise so in my mind it's a wash..but I am proud to take a look back at these moments and say I had a hand in us winning our first ever championship.