I’ve never been a big fan of David Stern, and the recent lockout just gave me more reasons to dislike the man who fixes games, covers up referee scandals, and fines/suspends players for dumb reasons. Did he expand the game globally? Yes, in a ton of ways he did, but if there’s a good prospect somewhere, teams will find said player one way or another in the ever shrinking youtube filled world. Why should I care if a bunch of people in Europe or Asia are watching NBA games? Truth is, I don’t give a rats ass! What has Stern done for me as an American NBA fan? Looking back, not a whole lot. Did he give us Jordan, Bird, or Magic? Nope, those guys would’ve been around whether he held his position or not. Did he ever fix the referee problem? No, he still has the same 90-year-old dudes out there calling a game that is faster than a video game. Did he over-expand the league? Yes. Did he allow crappy human beings to buy the teams when other possible owners would have been better for the league? Yes. Has he had two work stoppages during the past 15 years? Yes, and for the record even baseball hasn’t seen that happen. I guess we’ll see if the NBA has a finals or not, but this could be more damaging than the MLB’s 94-95 missed WS…
Stern became the commish in 1984, then four short years later expanded the league by adding the Charlotte Hornets and Miami Heat. A year later he added the Minnesota Timberwolves and Orlando Magic. Then in a stroke of genius, six years later (95′) he added the Vancouver Grizzlies and Toronto Raptors in a meager attempt to get Canadians to like hoops like they love hockey. That’s like getting Europeans to watch the NFL over soccer, just won’t ever happen. Then last but not least, he added the Bobcats in 2004. Two teams in Charlotte sin’t a typo, it’s a reality that he doesn’t know where a worthy place to start a franchise is. What do all these teams have in common? Two distinct things. One, they nearly all are run by the “hardline” owners we keep hearing about in our current stalemate of a CBA negotiation. Two, all these teams were put in cities that have little means of supporting a team when that said team sucks. Lets be real, if any of these teams are run like the Clippers or Knicks were over the last decade there’s noway they would turn a profit in the cities they’re currently in. Which is the point, don’t we want owners to be motivated to make their teams better? I suffered through years of Chris Cohan leading the Warriors to losing seasons, and because we were in a big market that still filled the building, nothing dramatically changed within the organization, because Cohan was still making money. Wouldn’t it be better for the league if owners like Kahn and Jordan actually had to try and build a good team to get fans in their arena? They talk about competitive balance all the time, but why don’t they ever talk about teams that don’t even attempt to be competitive? I feel like there should be some kind of push for contraction of teams that have a losing record for more than a decade. How much more excitement would that season bring having a team on the brink of contraction? Remember the save our Sonics season? That sure got a lot of fans in the building, for different reasons, but still. Bringing in these teams has done nothing to help the league “grow”. Miami isn’t even a “true” big market, yet they are one of the only teams that has done well financially. Maybe it was having two of the best players in the league playing half their games there. Even with that, they can’t even fill the building regularly, and sell out more of their road games than their home games.
Which brings us to the lockouts on Sterns’ watch. The good ol’ asterisk season of 98-99. We got 50 games due to a lockout shortened season, and saw a lot of fat out of shape players. Maybe if they got a deal done before January, those guys wouldn’t have been so out of shape after getting their holiday grub on. Either way, I see it as a major failure that Stern couldn’t find a way to get the owners and players on the same page. They saw the popularity of the NBA dramatically decline in ticket sales, and viewers, how is that a good thing for owners? Sure, this last season was stronger than any season in recent memory with a plethora of young stars on the rise, but that all means nothing if they lose a season. Even my grandpa was into it last year, and he hated basketball for the longest time! I have a hard time seeing him coming back to basketball if the lockout makes for a missed full season.
What are you the commissioner of if you don’t actually have a league? Now, were in our second lockout under Sterns watch as a commissioner, and I’ve yet to see how he’s helped out with getting the games going again in any fashion. Instead Stern is passing the time by throwing out threats, and trying to pull one over on the players while he treats them like kids. Am I on the players side? Not so much, but I’m not into what Stern did with his ultimatums and consistently undercutting the players, which may have pushed them to not accept a deal when they were really close to agreeing to it. It’s no secret the players don’t like Stern, but he isn’t helping the players desire to accept a deal. I get it, he’s there for the owners, but at some point you have to try to show the owners that the players have some rights too, and instead of giving ultimatums and threats give them a sense of what is in the deal, and why it’s good for them. In any negotiation, nobody wants to get told what to do. Maybe we need Rodger Goodell to be the NFL and NBA commissioner. At least he can make it so both sides feel like they get a win. All along Stern knew they were going to miss games, all along he never really tried to get a decent deal for the players. All along I’ve despised every move Stern he’s made, and yesterday was just another sad example of a guy who doesn’t seem to have the agenda of the best interests of the league. Stern isn’t the only one to blame in all of this, but I feel if they (Stern and owners) showed the urgency they had over the last month by sending numerous proposals to the players during the summer we wouldn’t be in the “nuclear winter” state. Stern and the owners played the waiting game, and now he is paying for it with another HUGE black mark on his record as commissioner. When we got to see how swift and competent the NFL was in their lockout this summer, you can’t help but wonder, what the hell was the commish thinking!?!