#1 – David Stern and the Frozen Envelope
The Theory: Before the 1985 NBA Draft lottery, Stern — perhaps along with other top NBA executives — had the envelope containing the Knicks' card frozen so Stern would be able to feel it by touch and know to leave it for the No. 1 overall pick, handing Patrick Ewing to the Knicks.
Why It Might Be True: The NBA has long wanted the big market Knicks to be good, Stern is a New York native, the team was in the toilet at the time and Patrick Ewing was the most desired rookie to come along in years. Plus, Stern has never struck anyone as the most ethical fellow.
Why It Might Be False: If David Stern was in the business of rigging things so the Knicks would be good, he would have had Isiah Thomas killed years ago. In fact, you have to wonder if there's a conspiracy against the Knicks.
#2 – Michael Jordan's Secret NBA Suspension
The Theory: In light of Michael Jordan's six-figure gambling, which may have included bets on NBA games, NBA commissioner David Stern suspended Jordan for the 1993-94 season. But in order to not sully the name of the league's biggest ticket and bring increased scrutiny on the NBA, Stern allowed Jordan to say he was "retiring" to try baseball.
Why It Might Be True: Jordan's casino gambling during the previous season's playoffs had drawn attention that Stern did not care for and sports superstars don't usually quit the game they love at age 30 to try a sport they haven't played since age 12.
Why It Might Be False: Jordan was at the peak of his career and seen as an athlete with no rival. By choosing baseball over a suspension, he was seen as an athlete who could easily be K'd by Double-A pitchers with 84 mph fastballs. Which is to say: you can make the case that playing baseball hurt his image more than a suspension would have. If there's any Jordan-related conspiracy, it's that he sold his soul to Satan before his North Carolina career and then, in exchange, he had to humiliate himself on the Wizards for two years and grow a mustache suggesting his support for Hitler.
#3 – Curt Schilling and the Bloody Sock
The Theory: Pitching against the Yankees in Game 6 of the 2004 ALCS, Red Sox start Curt Schilling put ketchup or red paint on the sock covering his injured ankle to give him an excuse if he pitched poorly — or make himself a hero if he did well.
Why It Might Be True: Schilling so loved attention and sought to self-mythologize himself at every turn, perhaps the theory isn't so absurd. It gained more traction in 2007 when veteran broadcaster Gary Thorne said Boston catcher Doug Mirabelli had admitted that Schilling's sock didn't have blood on it, before backing away from the claim.
Why It Might Be False: At the very least, it definitely wasn't ketchup. If it was, David Ortiz would have tried to eat Schilling by the second inning. Heck, Schilling would have tried to eat Schilling.
#4 – Cal Ripken and the Baltimore Power Outage
The Theory: Cal Ripken and his wife have long been friends with Kevin Costner. In August of 1997, while Ripken's consecutive games streak was still intact, Costner was staying at their residence. Cal left for that night's Orioles game, but then came back to the house because he forgot something and walked in on his wife having sex with Costner. Ripken called Orioles owner Peter Angelos to tell him he wouldn't be able to play and Angelos knocked out the power to the stadium.
Why It Might Be True: Ripken's streak sold a ton of tickets for the Orioles and it's not inconceivable that Angelos took drastic measures to keep it alive.
Why It Might Be False: Kevin Costner? Unless Mrs. Ripken has terrible terrible terrible taste in movies, there's almost no way she slept with Kevin Costner. Oh, and everyone claims Ripken was at the stadium and in uniform the night the power mysteriously went out. But that's beside the main point, which is, of course: Kevin Costner sucks at acting.