N.Y. Post: Joe Caldwell feels exonerated by referee Tim Donaghy and his latest allegations about the NBA scheming to fix playoff series, including the Kings-Lakers 2002 Western Conference finals.
The banned former NBA star has been telling his story since the late 1970s about another semifinal conspiracy involving the Lakers and it’s fallen on deaf ears. Until now.
Caldwell mentioned it in his book, “Banned from Basketball” – the incident in the tunnel of the Alexander Memorial Coliseum on the campus of Georgia Tech before Game 1 of the 1969 semifinals between the Lakers and the Atlanta Hawks. While talking to his coach, ex-Knicks great Richie Guerin, Caldwell claims he overheard thencommissioner Walter Kennedy tell veteran referee Mendy Rudolph that the NBA can’t have its Finals in a small arena like in Atlanta.
“We heard a voice, looked up and there’s the commissioner saying, ‘This is the NBA. We can’t have our Finals here,’ ” Caldwell said. “There’s 7,000 people here. They were trying to eliminate us. We were the best team in the NBA.”
The Lakers swept them, 4-0. The Hawks were flagged for 34 fouls in Game 1. In the final game, Jerry West went to the line 21 times, 57 times for the series Caldwell says Guerin went nuts on Kennedy in that breezeway after hearing his remark and was later fined.