SBJ/Jan. 20-26, 2014/In Depth

In his own words

NBA Commissioner David Stern has been one of the most quoted executives in sports. We dug into the SportsBusiness Daily archives to chronicle some of his greatest quotes and quips over the years.

Photo by: NBAE / Getty Images


1995

“I don’t call myself Easy David for nothing. I’m always prepared to give away some more of the owners’ money.”
— Vowing to get a deal with locked-out refs during a contract dispute (New York Post, 11/14)

1996
“If Dennis says he wants to dress in leather, Sports Illustrated will give him a cover. If he wants to take his clothes off, GQ will give him a centerfold. … It’s great. Dennis is really having his way with the media.”
— On the antics of Chicago Bulls forward Dennis Rodman (Chicago Tribune, 5/2)

“If we can’t do it, it can’t be done.”
— On the creation of the WNBA (Washington Post, 6/27)

1997
“We recognize that sometimes people step over the line and sometimes people step very far over the line. This one looks like — without having all the facts — that someone went into the stratosphere.”
— On Latrell Sprewell’s attack on coach P.J. Carlesimo (New York Times, 12/3)

1998
“They say, ‘Watch us, tune into us … but I’m not a role model.’ Stop. You are an attention getter and you should agree to a certain code of conduct.”
— On player behavior and conduct (Washington Post, 2/8)

“You’re just a narrow-minded, Daily News, East Coast kind of guy. Out in L.A., it’s 6 o’clock and people are coming home from work. They’d like to watch the game, too.”
— After New York Daily News columnist Mike Lupica asked him not to start NBA Finals games at 9 p.m. ET (ESPN2, 5/4)

1999
“You know, it was never true when they said I was very good, and it’s not true when they say I’m very bad. It’s something in the middle.”
— On whether he was humbled by recent criticism after years of praise (CNN, 1/5)

2001
“It’s a failure on our part, on the ownership part and I think on the business community’s part. No doubt about it. But we’re moving on. It was unhappy.”
— On the Grizzlies leaving Vancouver (FSN Detroit, 11/1)

2002
“Maybe a very small number of people want to play video games on their telephone or keep track of how many points Allen Iverson is scoring. But let’s try it. Because out of all of this is going to come something that will be a profitable application.”
— On the NBA’s future in digital media (Yahoo! Internet Life, 3/2)

“I’m committed to helping [ESPN’s] Dan Patrick’s career. His career is really sagging badly, and even to the point of putting on pajamas and a bathrobe, I would do it for Dan.”
— On appearing in ESPN’s NBA promos in a bathrobe (ESPNews, 10/16)

2004
“In the not-too-distant future, there’s going to be as many elite basketball players on other continents as there are in the [U.S.]. Once that was unthinkable. If I’d suggested to you that there’d be 75 international [NBA] players a decade ago, you would’ve laughed at me. I’m telling you, does anyone think that Yao Ming is the last great player to come out of China?”
— On international players in the NBA (Los Angeles Times, 2/11)

“I’d rather not be part of a league that sends its scouts and [GMs] to 10th- and 11th-grade games so they can watch high schoolers. It’s not something that we’re particularly proud of.”
— On the number of players declaring for the NBA draft straight out of high school (ESPN, 5/26)

“Our psyche and image for the week — if you had an opportunity to read about a game, and a score or a great performance, and you’re reading about fisticuffs and brawls — then that can’t be a good thing. But this, too, will pass.”
— Asked to assess the impact the brawl in Detroit had on the league’s image (Newark Star-Ledger, 12/1)

2005
“This is not about virtue anymore. This is not about public relations. This is not about business. This is about need and the specific opportunity that the world of sports has to respond to that need.”
— On the launch of the NBA Cares initiative (SBD, 10/18)

2006
“He would always call me when I did something he didn’t like and tell me I didn’t have any [balls]. One day he called me after I had done something he approved of and said that finally I had done something that showed I had them. One of the great days of my life.”
— On the passing of Boston Celtics President Red Auerbach (Washington Post, 10/30)

2007
“We think we have here a rogue, isolated criminal.”
— On gambling allegations facing referee Tim Donaghy (SBD, 7/25)

2008
“I’m going to get in trouble for this, but I think they’re ridiculous. I think the noise, the fire, the smoke is a kind of assault that we should seriously consider reviewing in whether it’s really necessary given the quality of our game.”
— On the in-game entertainment experience (ESPN.com, 5/12)

“My management style is characterized by worry.”
— On his management style (“The B.S. Report,” ESPN.com, 12/10)

2010
“To me, this is about Michael the businessman. I very much enjoy telling him that whatever he’s doing isn’t good enough. That’s all you have to tell him.”
— On Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan making the team financially viable following its first playoff appearance (Charlotte Business Journal, 4/30 issue)

2011
“What I would say to you, as diplomatically as I can, is when somebody invents a painless way to remove tattoos, there is going to be a lineup of our players saying, ‘Thank heavens! What was I thinking when I did this to myself?’”
— On the number of NBA players sporting tattoos (Fox Sports, 1/6)

“I would say it’s fair to say this is my last. This is a 10-year deal, with a reopener at six. I’m not planning to be here certainly for the 10 and probably not the six.”
— Stating the 2011 collective-bargaining agreement would be his last (ESPN.com, 12/8)

2012
“I have two answers for that. I’ll give you the easy one: No. And a statement: Shame on you for asking.”
— Responding to CBS’s Jim Rome’s question about whether the NBA lottery was fixed (“The Jim Rome Show,” 6/13)

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