SBD/October 19, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NBA Lockout Watch, Day 111: HBO's Gumbel Compares Stern To "Plantation Overseer"

Gumbel said Stern is more concerned with demeaning players than resolving the lockout
HBO’s Bryant Gumbel closed last night's episode of "Real Sports" by calling NBA Commissioner David Stern a “modern plantation overseer” while discussing the NBA lockout. Gumbel said, “If the NBA lockout is going to be resolved any time soon, it seems likely to be done in spite of David Stern, not because of him. I say that because the NBA's infamously egocentric commissioner seems more hell-bent lately on demeaning the players than resolving his game’s labor impasse.” Gumbel: “To any and everyone who’d listen, he has alternatively knocked union leader Billy Hunter, said the players were getting inaccurate information and started sounding Chicken Little claims about what games might be lost if players didn't soon see things his way. Stern’s version of what’s been going on behind closed doors has, of course, been disputed. But his efforts were typical of a commissioner who has always seemed eager to be viewed as some kind of modern plantation overseer, treating NBA men as if they were his boys. It’s part of Stern’s M.O., like his past self-serving edicts on dress code or the questioning of officials, his moves are intended to do little more than show how he's the one keeping the hired hands in their place.” Gumbel added, “Yes, the NBA's business model is broken, but to fix it maybe the league’s commissioner should concern himself most with the solution and stop being part of the problem” (“Real Sports,” HBO, 10/18).'s Kurt Helin notes this is "not the first time Gumbel has willingly strode into controversial race waters," as he did the "same thing talking about the NFL when Paul Tagliabue left office" in '06 (, 10/19).

GOING TOO FAR? VMW Communications Owner Vince Wladika wrote on his Twitter feed, "HBO and Bryant Gumbel looking for cheap publicity by pulling out the 'racist' card on Stern. What a total lack of class on their part.” Turnkey Sports & Entertainment Senior VP Steve Seiferheld wrote, “B.Gumbel labels David Stern as a 'modern plantation overseer'. It's 2011; slavery rhetoric insensitive & rude. #sportsbiz #NBA #FAIL.” USA Today's Jeff Zillgitt wrote, "I'm sure this went over well w/Stern." Bleacher Report's Dan Levy wrote, "I can't wait until David Stern calls Bryant Gumbel 'some kind of sports media pharaoh.' #letmypeoplego."
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