SBD/November 12, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Stern Reflects On 30 Years As NBA Commissioner, Overcoming Player Stereotypes

Stern says the Pacers-Pistons brawl was his toughest crisis as commissioner
NBA Commissioner David Stern, who is retiring in February, yesterday said of his 30-year tenure, "I think it's fair that you look at the body of work, rather than one thing." Appearing on CBS Sports Radio's "The John Feinstein Show," Stern added, "For reasons that are not personal to me, but are because of various developments in our industry, I can tell you when I joined the NBA in 1978 ... the revenues for those teams closing their books ... was $78 million all in. And this year they'll be five and a half billion." Stern said of the league's progress changing perceptions and overcoming stereotypes, "Our players in the early 80s were supposedly too black, earned too much money with their $250,000 salary and were clearly thought to be the only people in the world that ever used drugs. Of course that turned out not to be true." Stern said of the toughest crisis he faced as commissioner, "The brawl that involved the Pistons and the Pacers provided the opportunity for much of the media in the course of that weekend to use the words 'thugs' and 'punks' with respect to all of our players which to me is freighted with respect to what they're really saying and brought up visions of the way the media treated us a decade or more earlier." Asked if he was implying the media was racist in handling the incident, Stern said, "Yeah, mildly." Stern, on what he would say to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell regarding the Redskins' name controversy: "I'm not going to give him any advice on that one. That's too freighted as well. But I've been quoted as well as saying that an expansion team I'm sure would not get that name today. And so that's where I'll leave it and let Dan Snyder and Roger Goodell work that out themselves" ("The John Feinstein Show," CBS Sports Radio, 11/11).
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