Welcome to the NBA Roundtable!
This week we have EJ, Joao, and the other David putting a bow on the David Stern administration, whats next for Adam Silver, and yes, a final Question on the All-Star game.
EJ: I have to give David Stern a 9. Some perspective: David Stern took over as Commissioner of the NBA on February 1, 1984. I was 25 months old, or just barely past my 2nd birthday. David Stern is the only commissioner I’ve ever known. Some more perspective: my family is not from this country. I can call up my Uncle in Trinidad and we can watch the same game together. Under Commissioner Stern’s watch the game has grown into a global icon that may only be 2nd to soccer Worldwide. In the United States, I think you can argue that basketball is our 2nd favorite sport after football. All of this happened under Stern. Before Stern the NBA was a sport that was shown on tape delay and followed by only diehards. Yes, the players deserve a big hand but David had the foresight to make it happen. So, why only a 9? Shutting down Chris Paul to the Lakers still sticks in my craw. Basketball reasons my ass.
Bill: 7/10. Stern’s many positive contributions to the league were overshadowed by several other events that should not have taken place: relocating the Seattle Supersonics, blocking the trade that would have sent Chris Paul to the Lakers, taking ownership of the then Hornets and overriding decisions made by the GM hired to perform that role, and allowing the Tim Donaghy referee fixing scandal to even take place. I’m sure there are several others that may be brought to light, but these are just a few of the ones that I feel have irreparably tainted his long legacy.
Joao: Nobody likes the Commissioner right? Well, I’ll go against the grain and give him an 8, for he led the NBA for 30 years and helped fuel its global reach, while growing the league’s profitability and overall visibility. He did endure some controversies and lockouts, but for 30 years of service I believe that was to be widely expected. It is easy to criticize the person at the helm but fact of the matter is that one only needs to compare what the NBA was in 1984 and is now in 2014. The achievements speak for themselves in this case, I believe.
David: Was he perfect? No. Could anyone be perfect for 3 years, let alone 30 years? Unlike some, I remember back when the NBA was on tape delay, and the only live games you got was on Saturdays between the MLB and NFL seasons-or when they couldn’t find a game to play instead if you will notice, thats not a huge window. I have to give him a 10.
EJ: Promoting the player over the game. Individualizing the player might be the best thing he ever did. Making it about Magic, Bird, Jordan, Shaq, Iverson, Kobe etc… grew the game leaps and bounds. Yes, we still associate with the teams but focusing on the superstars, putting them on television early and often only grew the game to the heights where we are now. Now, we have young players who grew up watching their favorite players, and waiting to take their place among the stars. Making it about the player, more than the game, is one of Stern’s accomplishments.
Bill: Stern helped in expanding the league and accelerating its popularity. Both are key elements to the NBA’s success and he definitely came through in spades.
Joao: Some might argue that he was lucky to be in the right place at the right time, hitchhiking on the back of the NBA boom in the late 80s and early 90s, but I prefer to believe that Stern lifted the brand. He was able to foresee how to turn the NBA into a global league, watched all around the world, with marketable and recognizable players. David Stern created the conditions that led to the decisive growth of the NBA and, why not, of basketball as a phenomenon.
David: Hate to say it.
And don’t get mad at me.
Let me line up 5 of the most popular NFL Jerseys- and I’ll bet you big money that the person that buys them will be ether Black or White. You get the Orientals and Latinos.
Let me line up 5 of the most popular MLB Pullovers – I get the Latinos and White guys – You get the African-Americans. Let me line up 5 of the most popular Soccer players- I get the Latinos and . . . well, you get everyone else.
Let me line up 5 of the most Popular Hockey players- you tell me who they are, and I get the White People.
Now line up a few Kobe, Lebrons and Durant shirts- and now tell me what races you want. I’ll wait.
Are you stunned if 5 guys from France buys them? Or Japan? or Idaho? The NFL has dumped MILLIONS to try and put guys in Brady Jerseys walking around Berlin- Stern can’t print Dallas #41s fast enough.
EJ: Stopping Clay Bennett from taking away the Seattle SuperSonics. No disrespect to Oklahoma City but something about no basketball in Seattle just doesn’t feel right. Stern didn’t stop Clay in his tracks from taking away basketball from Seattle and moving to a smaller market in Oklahoma City. That move made no sense. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook should be wearing Emerald Green and Stern should have fought for the Sonics to stay in Seattle.
Bill: Stern should have removed himself from any part of the deal involving the sale and subsequent relocation of the Seattle Supersonics. Seeing as how Stern had personally known Clay Bennett for many years prior to Bennett’s interest in acquiring a team as well as bringing Bennett directly to Howard Schultz as the possible owner with the team’s best interests in mind clearly stinks of conflict-of interest. While I do understand and accept the fact that Stern’s role as commissioner makes his involvement in any potential deal of that magnitude next to impossible to remove, Stern should have taken a back seat and let Rod Thorn or Adam Silver handle the bulk of the work on the league’s end. What took place instead can hardly be argued as anything but straight collusion. The actions that followed, many of which were taken by Stern in a rather juvenile manner, spoke even further to the lengths of which he would go to ensure that his friend would be able to buy the team and relocate it on a fast tracked time frame despite Bennett stating publicly on several occasions that the team would remain in Seattle and that Bennett had no interest in relocating it.
What transpired after it was discovered that Bennett had, in fact, never intended to keep the team in Seattle despite publicly stating as such cemented his status as one of the most hated men in history as judged by the NBA fans in Seattle: Stern essentially threw a temper tantrum and threatened the city of Seattle and the other participants in the lawsuit to block the sale and relocation of the Sonics that if the very winnable suit were to be allowed to continue, the NBA would NEVER again return to the city of Seattle. Stern’s tantrum made it clear that he would do anything it took to guarantee Bennett’s successful acquisition of the team even though Stern should have stepped aside and let things play out as they should. But, because he chose to flex his ultimate might as the HMFIC of the NBA instead while figuratively standing atop the utterly broken hearts of Sonics fans (myself included) and those of the city of Seattle that were piled as high as the famous Space Needle, all while proclaiming “I’m DAVID J. FUCKING STERN, and you simply CANNOT fuck with me and how I say things are going to be in MY league!”, he lost major respect in my opinion and it took me a long time to even consider watching or even remaining a fan of the NBA.
Joao: He should have done everything in his power to avoid those 4 lockouts that somehow taint his track record. The lockouts in 1995, 1996, 1998-99 and 2011 not only took some luster away from the league, at least for a while, but also make some argue that those 4 NBA champions should have an asterisk next to their achievement (I personally do not agree with that assessment). The game suffered because of money and politics, and all of that under Stern’s watch.
EJ: I’d argue that job one would be bringing basketball back to Seattle, but I’ll settle for realignment. Washington belongs with their traditional rivals in the Atlantic. Toronto should be in the Central where they can have a natural rivalry with Detroit. Somehow Oklahoma City needs to fit into the Southwest and either Memphis or New Orleans needs to move East. If divisional realignment is too hard, then here is a simpler solution: eliminate divisions all together. Best 8 teams in the Conference make the playoffs, seeded by record, and re-seeded every round. Let’s do it Commissioner Silver!
Bill: There are several issues on said plate and pinpointing just one is hard. While I’d love nothing more than for him to come out and say that the NBA is definitely returning to Seattle, there’s no telling if and when that might be. As of right now, his primary concern will be one of appointing a replacement for an injured Kobe Bryant in the upcoming All-Star game. Hopefully that replacement will be Goran Dragic. I explain my rationale in the next question.
Joao: Fix the tanking issue. I have no idea how such a thing can or should be fixed but there should be no place in the league for teams losing on purpose in order to get more ping-pong balls. That is detrimental to the competitive nature of the NBA and it is something that has clearly worsened during these last few years. Adam Silver needs to study this situation, hear all parties involved and make something happen, possibly before the next season arrives. The incentives scheme needs to be fixed somehow.
David: Do something with his minor leagues. Either he needs to save the NCAA or destroy it. The NBADL is almost a non starter, and he could have a minimum age for HIS league, and have tryouts for the NBADL and save some bad teams from drafting guys that never pan out, or say screw it, and open the league. If LeBron has to play for the Birmingham Bruins, so be it- if it saves Irving from having back to back crappy picks added to his team.
5. If you could swap players on the All-Star team, who would it be (in other words if you say there is a snub, you gotta boot someone off)
EJ: Go back and read the 1/31 edition of The Blog About Nothing. I think I made my thoughts pretty clear there that Lance Stephenson was snubbed and that I have issue with DeMar DeRozan making the team.
Bill: Goran Dragic for Tony Parker… or even Lillard. Stay with me:
The lack of Dragic shows just how laughable this game has become. He’s played far better than both Lillard AND Parker for pretty much the entire season, all while running one of the most potent offenses in the league. Seeing how the Suns are firmly entrenched in the playoff hunt when everyone fully expected them to be a part of the tank-o-rama only solidifies his case. What a joke.
Parker and Lillard, seeing that their teams were expected to be good and playoff contenders, have received significantly more national TV coverage by comparison. Can the same be said of PHX? Nope. Finally, and even though I touched on this already, Dragic is anchoring a team that was expected to be a in the tank race for the number one pick. He and the team have far exceeded ALL expectations and are taking it to teams without fear. Can either of the two other teams and their respective players say the same? Uh, nope.
Fan and media voting is a joke. It’s more about who is a known commodity based on popularity acquired through exposure rather than actual production and value to their respective team. Dragic, when compared stat to stat, exceeds Parker in almost every category. Compared to Lillard, he’s ahead in a few and very close in several others. Based on that, statistically and for what he’s doing for a team that many ruled out, Dragic deserves to go. Period.
The NBA: Where favoritism based on popularity rather than hard work… repeatedly happens.
Joao: I wouldn’t touch the starters because, well, they won a popularity contest; but rightfully so in almost all 10 cases.
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