ESPN The Magazine Claims David Stern Runs NBA Much Differently Now Than In Past
NBA Commissioner David Stern is "not the same as the old Stern, the Stern once considered the most player-friendly of all commissioners, the one credited with understanding both Main Street and Madison Avenue better than his peers, resulting in a boomtown NBA," according to Howard Bryant of ESPN THE MAGAZINE. Today's Stern has "presided over two lockouts in a dozen years, with a referee fixing games in between." More important moving forward, he has been "exposed as the enabler of the hopeless cadre of small-market owners who shut the game down." Stern "escaped any real blowback for his mishandling of the [Chris] Paul trade or for interjecting himself into the deal in the first place." At the same time, he "exploited the anti-player, anti-union sentiment in this country that always gives institutions the advantage in winning over the public -- and he did so without much scrutiny." Still, Stern's moves "will come back to haunt the league." He sent a "clear signal that the Lakers needed curbing, the way baseball for years tried to rein in the Yankees." Bryant notes Stern, who "rose to power during the Bird-Magic-Jordan years, shouldn't need a history lesson to know the NBA has been at its most profitable when people care enough to love or hate the superteams in Boston and Chicago, New York and LA -- and Miami today" (ESPN THE MAGAZINE, 2/6 issue).
THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE INJURED: In Austin, Kevin Lyttle notes the NBA "feared a backlash from the lockout, which delayed the season's start from Nov. 1 to Dec. 25, but attendance is down only 3 to 4 percent, and TV ratings have soared." TNT's ratings are "up 65 percent from last season while ESPN's ratings are up 20 percent." NBA TV ratings have "risen 68 percent." But Lyttle notes scoring and shooting percentages "are down, turnovers are up, benches are being used more as coaches rest their weary stars and injuries are piling up, likely because of grueling schedules and the lack of a real training camp" (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, 1/27). NBA.com's Shaun Powell asked, "Have you ever witnessed so many injuries, so many poor shooting nights, so many lopsided scores in so short a time? Has there ever been a first month of a season as astonishing as this one?" Powell: "Part comical, part tragic and totally freakish, this season is starting to separate itself from all others, and not entirely for the better" (NBA.com, 1/25).