Stern Declines To Reminisce During Last NBA Finals Address; Talks CBA, Replay, Flopping
NBA Commissioner David Stern presided over his last Finals press conference prior to Game 1 on Thursday night in Miami and he declined to reminisce much after 30 years on the job. Stern, who will step down on Feb. 1, 2014, said, “It is not in my nature to stop and savor. We've got too much to do. We're busy. And we're involved in business planning and other things. I'll savor it when it's over; I'll look back on it. I will remain committed to the continued success of the NBA. That's the thing I think about more than I think about looking backwards. I'm actually looking forward to helping the NBA in any way possible." He also deflected a question asking him to list his greatest accomplishments and regrets during his tenure. “I wouldn't list anything,” Stern said. "I would just say that you look at the body of work and you say that he steered the good ship NBA in a productive way. We have had a lot that we've had to deal with in terms of crisis on the one hand and opportunity on the other. And we've dealt with the crises to protect the motherlode. We've dealt with the opportunity to take this league to a place we not only couldn't have anticipated, we couldn't have imagined" (John Lombardo, Staff Writer). CBSSPORTS.com's Ken Berger noted Stern was "alternately glib, energetic and reflective as he steered most of the questions about his past as commissioner toward the league's future" (CBSSPORTS.com, 6/6). NBA.com's Steve Aschburner wrote Stern was "vibrant, engaged, enthused even." This "wasn’t the man who came out of the rancorous lockout in 2011-12 tired and cranky." It "wasn’t Stern unplugged, either, though more and more of his duties are shifting" to Deputy Commissioner & COO Adam Silver, who will take over for Stern in '14. This was Stern "looking and sounding as if he could re-up for another term" (NBA.com, 6/6).
EQUAL OPPORTUNITY: In Toronto, Ryan Wolstat notes Stern "spoke most strongly about the CBA, which aimed to make more teams competitive and bring increased parity to a league that has consistently been ruled by a handful of franchises." Stern pointed to big-market teams the Knicks and Bulls "declining to match offer sheets on players last summer" and the Thunder's "dumping of James Harden as evidence that more teams are going to have a shot -- as long as they are managed well." Stern: “We are delighted that teams in the lower half of the league, including Miami (in terms of market size), have the opportunity to compete for a championship. And I think here we are this year probably having moved it a little bit further along where the event will define the teams rather than the teams defining the event. This is the NBA Finals" (TORONTO SUN, 6/7). CBSSPORTS.com's Berger noted Stern offered a "spirited defense" of the '11 CBA. Stern said that it is "on course to allow teams to compete for championships regardless of market size." Stern: "I think it's really here and it's upon us, and that is managing to the cap, the way they do it now in the NFL and the way it's done in the NHL. And we don't have the hard cap, but we have something that's a very, very close second" (CBSSPORTS.com, 6/6).
TO THE VIDEO TAPE: Stern also said that the league "likes having instant replay." But he said the NBA "has got to find a way to make it smoother." Stern added the NBA is “toying with the notion of whether replay can be done with an off-site review, the way it’s done in the NHL, to relieve the burden on referees" (MIAMIHERALD.com, 6/7). TRUE HOOP's Henry Abbott noted Silver "outlined a vision of how things might work in the future." Silver said, "If you have a group of officials in a broadcast center somewhere, location could almost be anywhere in this day and age of digital media, there wouldn't be that delay which officials need to walk over, turn the monitor around, put the headphones on, call for the replays. You could have offsite officials looking at multiple monitors at once" (ESPN.com, 6/6). Meanwhile, Stern said that the league "needs to expand its anti-flopping rules." ESPN.com's Brian Windhorst noted five players were fined $5,000 in the regular season and "seven more have been fined that amount in the playoffs." Stern: "It isn't enough. You're not going to cause somebody to stop it for $5,000 when the average player's salary is $5.5 million. And anyone who thought that was going to happen was allowing hope to prevail over reason" (ESPN.com, 6/6).
LEAVING A LEGACY: In Toronto, Doug Smith writes, "One thing is undeniable: Stern has presided over shocking financial growth of a truly global enterprise and a lot of people have gotten very rich under his leadership -- owners, players and business partners." But that is "just part" of Stern's legacy. The game’s popularity has "never been greater, its reach through television, the Internet and all forms of new media has never been as significant; there are few aspects of sports entertainment that the NBA doesn’t touch" (TORONTO STAR, 6/7). TNT's Steve Kerr said Stern "always had this amazing presence," which was necessary when he took over in '84. There were some "unbelievable young stars coming into the game" at that time, but somebody needed to "put all of this together and somebody had to make some hard decisions, some unpopular decisions." Kerr said as a player, he felt like Stern was "working for the owners." But after retiring, he realized Stern "created this whole machine that has allowed all of us to flourish in our careers." NBA TV's Steve Smith noted Stern brought the league out of the "drug-infested" '80s and expanded the game "globally." TNT's Charles Barkley noted Stern "took the care of the players" with the dramatic rise in average salary and has made it a "worldwide game." NBA TV's Chris Webber said Stern's "impact is going to last in this game a long time" and the "whole game has changed because of him." TNT's Reggie Miller: "The good thing too is having Adam Silver attached at the hip to him for the last 10, 15 years. I think where this league is headed because Adam Silver really learned under David Stern is really going to take the NBA to a different level" ("Open Court," NBA TV, 6/6).