Rome "Stunned" By Stern's Comments, Calls Draft Lottery Question A "Softball"
Syndicated radio host Jim Rome said he “really was stunned” by NBA Commissioner David Stern’s comments in a recent interview because he and Stern “have a long history,” according to Pete Dougherty of the Albany TIMES UNION. Rome said, “I've interviewed him dozens of times probably, on radio and TV over the years. Sometimes the interviews are a little more contentious than others, depending on the line of questioning and what mood he's in.” Rome said of asking Stern if the NBA Draft Lottery was fixed, “When I asked that question, I did not in any way expect that response. To be honest, I thought it was a softball question.” Rome said of Stern's response, “A lot of people don't know that phrase, so they thought it was extremely out of line. I understood it, I knew where he was going with it. I thought it was inappropriate because, what it is, it's a rhetorical device to insinuate that I asked him a loaded question. I don't think my question to him was loaded. I thought it was a very simple and very direct question” (Albany TIMES UNION, 6/15).
WAR OF WORDS: The GLOBE & MAIL’s Bruce Dowbiggin writes, "If you think media interviewing is a blood sport, then Rome definitely was gored in the exchange with Stern.” Making Rome a “sympathetic figure takes some doing.” If Rome “wanted to (respectfully) ask the question, he could have asked Stern about the optics of the Hornets being owned by the league with all that implies in the wake” of the NBA's gambling scandal involving former referee Tim Donaghy. But a “careless question drew a careless answer from a man who probably feels he’s above suffering fools at this stage in his career.” Dowbiggin: “Which doesn’t forgive Stern. Were he not a legend in the business, he might have committed a fireable offence." While Rome’s “act was par for the course, Stern did himself and his league no favours with his uncharacteristic sulk” (GLOBE & MAIL, 6/15).
CLASS DISMISSED? FORBES.com’s Patrick Rishe wrote Stern’s response “showed an air of classlessness and hypocrisy that is not befitting a man who has largely been a respected sports executive and administrator for years.” Rishe: “Classless in that he chose a much more aggressive tact than was necessary under the circumstances in my judgment. Hypocritical because the league’s office is quick to penalize its players and coaches who choose similarly aggressive tactics when talking about matters such as NBA officiating, or who have made comments or gestures that reflect violence” (FORBES.com, 6/14).
STERN WARNING: YAHOO SPORTS’ Adrian Wojnarowski wrote under the header, “David Stern’s Tantrum To Jim Rome Another Reason Why It’s Getting Time For Him To Leave.” Wojnarowski: "For all the young diva stars in the sport, no one has an entourage of yes men as deep as the NBA's commissioner. ... No one dares tell Stern the ultimate truth that his ego, his vindictiveness, is an embarrassment to the league." The controversial response "wasn’t about Stern’s honor, his reputation or defending his good name on Rome’s radio show." If Stern "can’t handle a line of questioning on the draft lottery without resorting to personal insults, he shouldn’t sit for the interviews.” For the “good of the legacy that Stern so cherishes and, more importantly, for the good of the NBA, there needs to be a succession of power soon.” Wojnarowski: "The longer Stern stays, the worse for his legacy. It’s sad to watch, and his accomplishments do deserve a graceful ending" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 6/14).