SBD/May 9, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Stern Says Shorter Training Camp Could Be A Factor In Injuries, 66-Game Sked Won't Stick

Stern said he does not like players coming to NBA straight from high school
NBA Commissioner David Stern appeared on ESPN Radio’s “Mike & Mike in the Morning” and talked about the shortened 66-game schedule, how that may have played a role in players sustaining more injuries and the league’s current minimum age limit. He said it is “going to be a very tough issue” to play a shortened season on an annual basis. Stern: “We have these important buildings built, and many times with municipal assistance. We have leases that commit to a 41-game home schedule. We have local TV deals that are in place that provide for a 41-game home schedule. We have network agreements in place, even radio, with ESPN that are based on an 82-game schedule. And we have these things called contracts with the players that are based on the revenues from an 82-game schedule. So I'm scratching my head and saying, ‘How do you do this without reopening the collective bargaining agreement?’”

INJURY TIME-OUT: Stern admitted he did not know if the compressed schedule this season contributed to more injuries. He noted some players “came into a shortened training camp in better shape than others, and I think some of our issues have to do with the shorter training period rather than the compressed schedule.” Stern: “I don’t think it was the compressed schedule, but maybe there’s something else going on. We’re going to take all the data and put it through some medical and trainer screen and see what we can learn about it.” He added, “We were mindful of the fact that when we played a 50-game schedule (following the ’98 lockout), there was some sense and a fair amount of criticism and feeling that we had to have an asterisk because it was too short to determine a fair champion. But at 66 (games), we think we're only losing 20% of the season. We did something that was good for the players, the owners, but particularly for the fans.”

20/20 VISION: Stern discussed the issue of raising the league’s current age limit to 20 years old, and he said, “One of the things we agreed to with the union (during CBA talks) was that this is a hot-button issue all around and why don't we appoint a committee and have the committee agree to meet -- owners, players, even involve the NCAA or other appropriate parties -- and let's talk about this.” Stern: “I know there are lots of discussions, people writing articles, making statements and the like about something better than a 19-year-old rule. Unfortunately, the union has been a little bit busy, so we haven't gotten together. But I'm sure we will and I think this needs a full airing.” He added, “I don't like players coming in right out of high school. I think that as a business matter, our teams do better if they get to see a more mature player. …I think 20 would be better and I understand opposition to it, and I'm not sure I'm crazy about the one-and-done terminology. But honestly, I think that’s something that is happening because that’s what the colleges do” (“Mike & Mike in the Morning,” ESPN Radio, 5/9).

OLYMPIC FATIGUE? The commissioner also appeared on CBS Sports Network’s “Rome” last night and said he was “getting closer” to Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban’s position of not having NBA players participate in the Olympics. Stern said, “I don’t agree with him fully. I think ‘out of the competition’ really means that we’d be depriving our athletes of the opportunity to represent their country and showing the rest of the world of basketball that we want to be their partner. I do think that the idea that FIFA … uses might be a model for us where they only have players 23 and under for the most part in the Olympic competition.” Stern: “As our players get older, it would be good to relieve them of the duty each year to go back to their countries or represent their countries no matter how many times they’ve done it before by having a more limited participation” (“Rome,” CBS Sports Network, 5/8).
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