Research Shows NBA Referees Are Biased
An academic study of NBA officiating found little to no evidence that referees favor teams from large media markets in the playoffs, a favorite conspiracy theory of skeptical fans.
But the same study found that NBA referees tend to favor home teams, teams trailing in a game and teams trailing in a playoff series.
The study, conducted by three economics researchers, fuels the perennial debate about the influence of NBA officials on games. It suggests that forces ranging from league executives to simple human psychology can influence calls in a measurable way — though not always enough to affect a game’s outcome.