SBD/Issue 122/Leagues & Governing Bodies

Holding Court: Stern Discusses Sonics, NBA Image In Q&A

Stern Discusses Sonics Situation,
Image Of NBA In Fan Q&A
NBA Commissioner David Stern in a Q&A with fans responded to criticism of the NBA's insistence on public financial support for new arenas, saying the ideal is "a private/public corporate partnership, and in Seattle, basically, the City Council said, 'No,'" according to Sean Gregory of TIME. Stern: "In fact, it engineered legislation that would make it difficult if not impossible for them to give any aid to the building of a new arena. And the state legislature said, 'No.' So we never got to the debate as to what the fair shouldering of responsibility should be, because we never were engaged in it.'' ... When asked if the NBA has lost popularity compared to other sports because it "has become too synonymous with hip-hop ostentation," Stern responded, "I don't think so. I think one watches the Grammys, one watches the fashion shows, and the reality is that sports, music, fashion -- they're global trends. ... We don't court it, we don't overly promote it. Charles Barkley took me to task for having Big & Rich at the Denver All-Star Game (in 2005) because they weren't hip-hop. I'm waiting to be criticized for having Branford Marsalis and Harry Connick Jr. as half-time entertainment (at the 2008 All-Star game) in New Orleans because it wasn't hip enough.'' When asked about his decision in '05 to implement a dress code for the players, Stern said, "It's not the draconian dress code that people came to believe it was. You would have thought I'd said you had to wear a tuxedo or tails to a game."

MORE STERN: When asked about the steps the NBA has taken to "minimize incidents or allegations of game fixing by the referees," Stern said the league is "putting in new and more sophisticated computer programming and screens, to see what irregularities pop out. We're doing new background checks, in a deeper way, on a more continual basis. We're cutting off pre-game information for the referees, once they go into the locker room. We're in the process of setting up hotlines to receive particular types of information. And we're looking into a greater group of activities, some of which I would rather not publicize, but really go to insuring our game against betting irregularities." Stern confirmed that the NBA will attempt to increase the league's minimum age to 20, and added, "We think (raising the entry age to 19) has been very constructive" (TIME.com, 3/12).

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