Seriously, who doesn’t love a good conspiracy theory? Did we really land on the moon? Is Santa Claus real? I mean, are we absolutely sure the Earth isn’t flat? Things that make you ponder and go hmm… Conspiracy theories have been around as long as we can remember. Remember the Salem Witch trials? Were they made up, or are there really witches roaming around? Maybe Sabrina and her talking cat were on to something. Who knows, right? Yeah, witches aren’t real but if that’s what you believe that’s cool too.
In the entertainment world, conspiracies still run strong. Did you hear the one about Tupac being alive on a remote island? Or the more recent one about Avril Lavigne’s body double that killed her and took over her career? Cool it, guys. Avril Lavigne is alive and well… or is she? Either way, if there’s something that makes too much sense, there’s more than likely always going to be a theory that relies on alternative facts to make sense.
In the sports world, conspiracy theorists have tried and sometimes succeeded in proving these theories true time after time. Most of those times include government cover-ups and, of course, mob bosses paying their way into the game. Even the greatest in the game, such as Michael Jordan and Tom Brady, have theories surrounding them and their performances. I guess you never really know the truth about some people. Or, we do know the truth and people choose not to accept it. So here’s a list of sports conspiracy theories that are just outright debunked and some that make you think.
15. 2017 Playoffs Markeiff And Marcus Morris Switch Up
The most recent NBA conspiracy theory was a little while ago during the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2017 Playoffs. The teams were the Boston Celtics and the Washington Wizards. It’s game one and Wizards forward Markeiff Morris comes down hard on his ankle in the first quarter of the game, injuring the ankle in what looks to be a severe manner. Morris was forced to leave the game because of the injury, but came back two days later stronger and more powerful. With such an injury, how could he come back in such a short time? The theory is that it wasn’t actually Markeiff playing, but his twin brother Marcus Morris who plays for the Detroit Pistons. Dun, dun, dunnn. If you know about the Morris twins, you would know that they’re identical in almost every way, including having identical tattoos. The difference between the two is their playing style though, so it’s 100% more than likely that the switch wasn’t made but it is something that made people consider the possibility.
14. 1985 First NBA Lottery Draft Pick
In June of 1984, it was decided by then NBA Commissioner David Stern that flipping a coin for potential draft picks just wasn’t enough, and also wasn’t fair because teams were losing on purpose to get a chance to flip for better players. Stern decided to implement the lottery where envelopes would be pulled randomly from a drum to decide which pick was going where. On the afternoon of May 12, 1985 the first NBA lottery occurred. As we all know Patrick Ewing, the best NBA player at the time, ended up going to the Knicks but the conspiracy goes that the envelope containing the Knicks logo was bent, or frozen, so it would stand out and Stern would pick it. If you watch the video, you can see a man throwing one of the envelopes to the side of the drum to bend its corner and it just so happens that the envelope was chosen first. Stern denied and continues to deny what we think, or know, we saw.
13. NBA Tanking
To go along with our first conspiracy theory, we go more in detail of NBA Tanking. Tanking is basically losing on purpose so that you’ll have a better chance at receiving a top tier player during the next draft. This has actually been proven to be true, back in the days before the lottery pick where the teams with the worst records would flip a coin to see who they would get. The worse the record, the better the player. Ex-manager Donald Sterling took full advantage of this and has been quoted saying “we can win by losing.” This had a huge part to do with the NBA lottery going into place back in 1985, but the question remains: are NBA teams still tanking now in 2017? In short, yes. There are still teams today that lose intentionally to get a higher chance at better players. Of course, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver denies any such thing, but come on Silver. We know.
12. Michael Phelps At The 2008 Olympics
It’s the summer of 2008 and Michael Phelps has already racked up six gold medals as he goes for his seventh in the Beijing Olympics. He’s trailing behind Serbia’s Milorad Cavic the entire race of the 100m butterfly, but makes a miraculous comeback and beats Cavic by 1/100 of a second. Or did he? Video appears to show that Cavic actually beat Phelps to the finish line sensor, but officials say that Phelps touched it first. The conspiracy behind this is that there was a lot riding on Phelps winning so he could rack up more gold medals than his predecessor Mike Spitz, who held a total of seven gold medals in one Olympic games. To add to this conspiracy, it was noted that Phelps was a spokesperson of Omega, who happened to be the official timekeeper of the event and that they would make him a lot of money. Omega General Manager Christopher Bertaud went on record to say that Cavic touched the sensor first, but he did not apply the pressure needed to stop the clock.
11. 2013 Super Bowl Blackout
Third quarter of the 2013 XLVII Super Bowl was probably the most exciting quarter of the game after a very boring start. The Ravens were beating the 49ers 28-6 in what looked to be a game that just made you want to either change the channel or fall asleep. Then boom, the lights go out. Half of the stadium is black before the generators kick in to bring up the backup lights. The game was delayed for a total of 34 minutes before they resumed play. The theory behind this is that the game was too boring and they were losing viewers so they caused a ruckus that made people want to turn back and see what was going on. The blackout gave the 49ers momentum and scored 17 unanswered points before the Ravens scored again. The Ravens ended up winning the game and Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis told reporters that something was up because there’s no way a “zillion-dollar” company loses power like that. The outage was reportedly due to a faulty electrical device.
10. 2002 Playoffs Lakers-Kings Game 6
In 2007, ex NBA referee Tim Donaghy was charged and sentenced for betting on NBA games that he was officiating, and using his knowledge to help those around him bet as well. He admitted to what he had done, but he also stated that he knew of other situations where referees had intentionally thrown games because higher ups had told them to. A game that he made reference to was the semifinals game 6 of the 2002 playoffs between the LA Lakers and the Sacramento Kings. Donaghy said that the referees of the game were “working men” that acted on behalf of the NBA and he knew that they wanted to extend the series to game 7 for more ratings, which equaled more money. Questionable fouls were called against the Kings and not against the Lakers, such as when Kobe Bryant elbowed Mike Bibby in the face and the foul was called on Bibby. The Lakers ended up winning the controversial game and the Finals. David Stern stated that the allegations were not true and made by a convicted felon. Because, you know, felons can’t be trusted or anything.
9. Caster Semenya – Throwing Races To Avoid Scrutiny
After winning the world championship in 2009, Caster Semenya fell under a lot of scrutiny and judgment. People thought she was a man. She had to undergo a bunch of sex verifying tests and procedures because it was believed that her athletic progression was too fast and it was also believed that she had been using performance-enhancing drugs. Her results were never published but they were leaked, which made people think that she was intersex, having both female and male genitalia. She has never confirmed nor denied the claims, simply because she didn’t have to.There’s plenty of women around with deeper voices and bigger muscles, and they don’t get treated nearly as bad as she did and probably still does. It was thought that she began to throw races so that people would leave her alone, even finishing second in the 2012 Olympic games to Maria Savinova who reportedly sneered at Semenya’s performance. A few years later, Savinova was disqualified for doping and Semenya ended up with the gold anyway. Who’s laughing now, Savinova?
8. Bobby Riggs & Billie Jean King, Battle Of The Sexes
In 1973, former male tennis great Bobby Riggs challenged current female tennis great Billie Jean King to a tennis match, stating that he could beat her simply because men were better than women at sports at any age, at any playing. Oh, it was on. King had her mind set and she trained hard to beat chauvinist Bobby Riggs.
On September 23 in front of a crowd of 30,000 and millions watching back home, she did just that. She beat Riggs in three straight sets and walked away with a prize of $100,000. Shortly after, speculation started that Riggs threw the match to settle his gambling debt with mobsters. He denied that he threw the game, but did admit that he was a gambler. He stated that King beat him fair and square, and King stated that men were just upset that a female beat a man in a sporting event. Did he throw the game? It’s highly doubted, but you never know when it comes to owing people money. It can be a real killer.
7. Muhammad Ali’s Phantom Punch
Probably one of the most confusing and controversial boxing matches of all time happened back in 1965 between Muhammad Ali, then Cassius Clay, and Sonny Liston. On May 25 in Lewiston, Maine, Clay and Liston had their second fight together for the WBC Heavyweight Championship title. Clay, a fast-talking boxing machine was up against Liston, an ex-con with a mean, heavy punch. The fight lasted only a few minutes, with Clay knocking out Liston with a punch that looks to have barely connected, making Liston disoriented. This would eventually end the fight. It happened so quick that some people hadn’t even gotten a chance to sit down in their seats. As soon as the match was over, crowd members started to yell that the game was fixed because there’s no way that “phantom punch” could’ve caused any damage at all. The theory behind the fall was that Liston and his family were in danger, either from Muslims that sided with Clay or gang members that Liston owed money. If either were true, Liston made the fall to save his life. Who can say they wouldn’t do the same?
6. New England Patriots: Deflategate
Anyone who’s anyone that knows about football knows the story of Deflategate. If you’re one of the few that don’t, it’s about a case involving the New England Patriots and their deflated balls. Footballs, that is. It began in the AFC Championship between the Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts where a Colts equipment manager measured the pressure of one of the footballs and it showed that it was underinflated. A series of ball testing followed and eventually Tom Brady and the Patriots were fined and penalized. They had to give up their first and fourth round draft picks, and Brady was suspended for four games of the following season. Conspiracy theorists soon came up with reasons why the Pats would deflate the balls. The theory: The Colts deflated the balls themselves to frame the Patriots because their General Manager Ryan Grigson held a 13 year grudge against the Patriots for beating the Rams in the 2001 Super Bowl. Grigson worked for the Rams at the time. That’s a LONG grudge to hold. The only people that believe the rumor is Patriot fans, and of course other theorists who don’t believe there was no wrongdoing.
5. 1992 US Olympics Men’s Basketball Team
What is commonly referred to as the “Dream Team” is the 1992 US Olympics men’s basketball team featuring the man himself, Michael Jordan. The star studded lineup also included Charles Barkley, Larry Bird, Scottie Pippen, and John Stockton, just to name a few. A name that was missing from the lineup of amazing basketball players of the year was Isiah Thomas. Thomas, one of the best point guards to play the game, was in the second half of his career winding down from his prime, but so were other players like Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, whose averages were still impressive but not the best they had been. The theory behind Thomas’ absence was that Michael Jordan gave the higher-ups an ultimatum: him or Thomas. Easy choice, of course, if that was the truth. Years later, Jordan stated that he didn’t keep Thomas off the team but there were people that didn’t want him on the team because of his bad attitude. A member of the team, Scottie Pippen, flat out said that he didn’t want Thomas on the team because he despised how he played the game. Thomas said he holds no grudges after all these years. How mature of him.
4. Michael Jordan’s Flu Game
Keeping up with the trend of Michael Jordan, here’s the conspiracy theory behind the famous “Flu Game” where Jordan scored 38 points despite having the shakes and other fever-like symptoms. In the beginning of the game, Jordan looked weak and sick. Many didn’t think he would last the whole game. But Jordan wouldn’t give up or back down, even though he looked like he needed a huge helping of chicken noodle soup and crackers. He dominated the game while drinking fluids and keeling over every break he got. But Jordan didn’t have the flu. According to his trainer, he had food poisoning. This is how the story goes. Jordan and others ordered a pizza late in the night, and five mysterious men who are believed to be Jazz fans, delivered the pizza and Jordan was the only one to have had any. Boom, there’s the story. Or so it’s told. Former NBA-er Jalen Rose remembers the game and says that Jordan had a hangover, plain and simple. Hangover or food poisoning, the game was iconic.
3. Curt Schilling’s Bloody Sock
In the 2004 American League Championship Series, the Boston Red Sox were down and looking to be out. Pitcher Curt Schilling had suffered a torn tendon sheath in his right ankle and had to have a last minute surgery to suture the ankle in order to play in the game. The Red Sox were down 3-2 in the series against the New York Yankees. Schilling pitched 7 innings of the game with the injured ankle, and even limped out to the bases. According to reports, the suture started to tear and blood started to leak onto Schilling’s sock. But was it really blood? Theories arose that Schilling wanted to play the hero role and either painted or soaked his sock in ketchup. Of course Schilling became upset and completely denied the blood was fake. He even went as far as showing a picture of the scars, years later, cursing anyone who didn’t believe him. Blood, ketchup, or paint, the bloody sock was auctioned for over $90,000 in 2013.
2. 1995 New Zealand Rugby Team
The 1995 Rugby World Cup Final game was between the South Africa Springboks and the New Zealand All Blacks. The game took place on June 24 in Johannesburg, South Africa with South African President Nelson Mandela in attendance. The game has been called highly controversial and a large upset, seeing as how New Zealand had the favor of winning. This win never came, largely because the All Blacks team members came down with a case of food poisoning before the game. During the game, members were seeing vomiting on the sidelines and appeared to be visually sick. Conspiracy theories began to arise saying that a waitress named “Suzie” who had tainted their drinks, but not the food, poisoned the All Blacks. Two-thirds of the team members had food poisoning symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea on the Thursday before the game, which was held on a Saturday. There are no factual reports of a waitress named Suzie, but there is a report that shows there was a woman working at the hotel where the team ate and drink, but after the game she no longer worked there. Interesting.
1. Michael Jordan’s First Retirement
It was a shock to the basketball world when Michael Jordan retired from the game on October 6, 1993. Jordan stated that he had lost his motivation in the game, and that he was also grieving the recent death of his father who had been murdered a few months prior. He would later join a minor league baseball team, a dream of his father’s, he said in an interview. His retirement didn’t last long, nor did his baseball career. He ended up playing baseball for a little over a year and signed back to the Chicago Bulls in March of 1995, 18 months after his retirement. Why such a short “retirement”? The theory is that Michael Jordan had a terrible habit of gambling and was forced to retire as a suspension from the game. The NBA had started an investigation after word got out of Jordan’s betting habits, which miraculously got dropped after Jordan’s announcement. He came back to the NBA no longer under investigation and dropping points like nothing happened. He later admitted to having a serious gambling problem, but never that his retirement was a suspension.