The often crazy world of sports is the perfect haven for conspiracy theorists. Strange happenings and mysterious situations come up frequently and the speculation runs rampant. Sports can be unpredictable, and there have been some gigantic conspiracy theories in sports that certain people believe to this day. Here are five of the biggest conspiracies in recent memory.
1. The Phantom Punch
The boxing world has been full of conspiracies throughout it’s history, but none bigger than the controversy surrounding the 1965 rematch between Ali and Liston. Mid-way through the first round, Ali connected on a light jab to Liston that led to Liston being knocked down and counted out, thus giving Ali the win. However, very few people in attendance saw the punch and thus, it was nicknamed the “phantom punch”. While videos have shown the punch landing, it was not very hard and many still think Liston took a dive to pay off debts to the mafia.
2. The Rigged 1985 NBA Draft
This 1985 draft saw the New York Knicks select future HOFer Patrick Ewing with the first overall pick. However, it is believed by many that they didn’t get him legitimately. The Knick’s were a marquee team in the NBA but weren’t playing like one and desperately needed a big man to turn their team around. It has been speculated that the NBA rigged the draft so that one of its biggest money making teams could get the player they wanted.
3. Michael Phelps Lost in the 2008 Olympics
Phelps made headlines around the world for winning 8 gold medals in the Beijing Olympics, but many believe that he should have only won 7. Many believe that a Serbian swimmer named Milorad Cavic actually won the 100 m butterfly. It was reported he was given a faulty touchpad, which allowed Phelps to win by one hundredth of a second. Video analysis was done and confirmed Phelps win, but was never released to the public and fueled this conspiracy even more.
4. The Blackout Bowl
Heading into the second half of Super Bowl XLVII the Ravens held a commanding 28-6 lead and were looking like they would walk away with another Super Bowl win. However, at the start of the third quarter, a power outage occurred that stopped play for over half an hour. After the power restored, their opponents (the 49ers) scored 17 unanswered points that led to a close and exciting game. Many believe the plug was pulled intentionally to keep the game more interesting and add suspense to a blowout game.
5. Refs Helped the Lakers Win the 2002 NBA Championship
This is perhaps the biggest conspiracy theory in sports and is still hotly debated over a decade since it happened. The Sacramento Kings were up 3-2 in the 2002 WCF and were one win away from going to the Finals. The Lakers were the most popular team and were on a journey to a three peat, which is obviously a huge story for the NBA. Game six was tied heading into the fourth quarter, a quarter which saw the Lakers shoot an astonishing 27 free throws with many taking place near the end of the game. The Lakers won the game, the series and eventually the title. It is believed the NBA told the refs to make sure the Lakers win.