Ralph and the Ref

Yesterday, Ralph Nader had a moment of vindication. In a court filing, disgraced ex-NBA ref Tim Donaghy claimed that Game 6 of the 2002 Lakers-Kings playoff series was manipulated by two of the three referees. Guess who has been saying that all along?

Back in 2002, Nader wrote a letter urging NBA Commissioner David Stern to investigate the controversial game, in which the Lakers scored 16 of their final 18 points at the foul line thanks to some heavy-handed officiating. Nader’s interference drew scorn, but then again so did everything he did back then. People were still miffed over the 2000 election results, for which many Democrats blamed him .

Charles Barkley called Nader an “idiot.” One San Bernardino Sun columnist mocked the ” clang-clanging of a howling Ralph Nader just audible below the din.” The Daily Oklahoman editorial board laughed at the “perpetual crank”:

[W]ho else but the most boorish fan well, other than Ralph Nader would call on the league office for an outside investigation of the referees, or even more silly, of the referees’ collective intent?

Who indeed.

For Nader, the timing couldn’t be better. In case you didn’t hear the first time , he’s running for president again. ” This whole thing has lit up our funds today,” spokesman Chris Driscoll told me. Meanwhile, Nader’s office sent out a celebratory e-mail blast: ” We tell our kids that sports teaches lessons about life. The lesson we learned from the 2002 NBA Playoffs Ralph was right.” At last, Ralph Nader can get the respect he deserves!

Well, not quite. Even in his moment of glory, ESPN killed the mood, describing him as a “former presidential candidate.” No doubt another example of the corporate-owned media trying to push him out of the race.