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Volume 26 No. 89
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Stern Talks State Of NBA, Reflects On Time As Commissioner

Stern is proud of the way the public perceives NBA players now compared to several decades ago
Photo: NBAE/GETTY IMAGES
Stern is proud of the way the public perceives NBA players now compared to several decades ago
Photo: NBAE/GETTY IMAGES
Stern is proud of the way the public perceives NBA players now compared to several decades ago
Photo: NBAE/GETTY IMAGES

NBA Commissioner Emeritus David Stern said that he "loves the direction" of the league right now and has "'no regrets' about his own 30-year tenure," according to a Q&A with Marc Spears of THE UNDEFEATED. Stern, reflecting on his time as commissioner, said he wished he could have "had clear sailing and unanimous agreement on collective bargaining," but he did not, which is one "failure" in his mind. However, he is pleased with NBA players' reputations today because he felt when he took over they were "in the basement of the pyramid of celebrity" and now they are the "most listened to, the most beloved, in some ways, and the most important athletes in all of sports." Below are excerpts from the Q&A, some of which have been edited for clarity and brevity.

Q: What are you up to now?
Stern: I'm involved with many sports technology startups ... about televising the game, and about player health. That's a very important issue for me. Imagine if we could extend the career of every player by a year.

Q: Did you find it offensive that some people thought your implementation of the dress code was racist?
Stern: No, because race is always an issue, and that's just the way it is. And the NBA has always been on the edge of discussions of race. At every collective bargaining negotiation, I was accused of having a plantation mentality. It depends who wanted to use it, but it didn't surprise me, and it doesn't offend me anymore. It just is what it is. People use what's in their arsenal.

Q: What do you think about the voice now? The players seem like they speak out more than perhaps 10, 15, 20 years ago.
Stern: They should talk. They should speak out because they have the power to influence on social issues. I'm very pleased to see those developments.

Q: Are you surprised that the Lakers and Clippers now have a real rivalry?
Stern: No. It was preordained and was always going to be. They're going to hate each other.

Q: How often do you go to NBA games now?
Stern: I watch everything on TV. I don't go to games often. I don't remember the last time I went to a game (THEUNDEFEATED.com, 9/10).