SBD/Issue 155/Leagues & Governing Bodies

David Stern Downplays Talk Of Tighter NBA Playoff Schedule

Stern Vehemently Disagrees With Van Gundy's
Suggestion Of Tighter Playoff Schedule

NBA Commissioner David Stern downplayed Magic coach Stan Van Gundy's suggestion that the league "return to back-to-back games during the playoffs and condense the schedule," saying that "those days are long gone," according to Gary Washburn of the BOSTON GLOBE. Stern said, "It’s the playoffs. We craft an $800[M] TV deal, it’s a really good deal, and then I pick up the paper and see that Stan Van Gundy is an expert on scheduling. It’s like going back to high school, he said, and my response is that he’s speaking like he’s in high school. He should grow up." Stern added, "We’ve got a business here that feeds a lot of people, and we make a fair living at, and engages America, and I am really tired of hearing coaches who think because they have a postgame platform that anything that comes into their minds is a good thing to say. It sends a terrible message to our fans" (BOSTON GLOBE, 4/25). But N.Y. Daily News columnist Mike Lupica said of the prolonged schedule, "I always hear about, 'We have to protect our television partners.' How about protecting your fan partners?" ESPN's John Saunders: "As the NHL has found out, playing every other night does build a following" ("The Sports Reporters," ESPN, 4/25).

A FINE LINE TO WALK: Stern last week threatened to increase fines for coaches who criticize NBA officials, and Celtics coach Doc Rivers said, "It's a competitive game. It's (not easy) to be calm and collected. Coaches fight for their teams. That’s what you get hired to do." In response to Rivers, Stern said, "It's the coach's job to comply with the rules and do what you can. ... There’s some beautiful basketball being played out there by some talented basketball players, and coaches should step back and let that happen" (BOSTON HERALD, 4/24). Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said of Stern's threat to increase fines, "I believe him. I've gotten to know the commissioner well over the last few years because of my involvement with the coaches' association. And he's a man who is interested in the well-being of the game and he's interested in doing the right things" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 4/24).

IN A RUSH? The BOSTON GLOBE's Washburn noted the NBA "would love to get a new" CBA reached by July 1, when Cavaliers F LeBron James, Heat G Dwyane Wade and Raptors F Chris Bosh "could sign maximum contacts under the existing deal." Stern said, "It would be really nice (to get a deal done early). We thought it would be really great to try to get something done by this year, not because of the max contracts or free agency but because to the extent that there were changes that had to be implemented, they could be phased in over a period of time." However, Washburn noted the NBPA has "no interest in a new deal before the CBA expires in the summer" of '11, and "nothing has changed" since the two sides last met during NBA All-Star weekend in Dallas (BOSTON GLOBE, 4/25).

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