I’ve always been a fan of David Stern. He ruled with an iron fist and always seemed to have the NBA’s best interest in mind with his decisions. Not anymore.
Stern has worked for the NBA for 45 years. He’s been the commissioner for the last 27 years. I always thought that was a long, long time and wondered when he’d step aside or be kicked out. Apparently we’ve reached that day.
Just the idea that the New Orleans Hornets are owned by the league, and continue to be into this year after the league took them over last year is insane. That situation needed to be fixed long ago. The Hornets are operating as a dummy franchise right now.
Last year, New Orleans made a trade, dealing away Marcus Thornton to Sacramento for Carl Landry. In the process they took on a little more salary. Marc Cuban was not happy and complained because technically he owned 1/29 of the Hornets. Nothing came of the matter otherwise.
The problem was evident though, even if there wasn’t a big stink about this small deal. What would happen if the team wanted to, or had to make a bigger deal, say one involving franchise player, Chris Paul? Now former Lakers coach Phil Jackson saw the writing on the wall when he was asked about the scenario by Kevin Ding of the OCR:
“Who’s going to pull the button on it?” Jackson asked about the possibility of Paul leaving for another team. “When Chris says he has to be traded, how’s that going to go? … Someone’s going to have to make a very nonjudgmental decision on that part that’s not going to irritate anyone else in the league.”
I think we can fairly state that “nonjudgemental” and “irritate” are two things that couldn’t be avoided unfortunately. David Stern, caved to the complaints of some owners in the league, and created a bigger sandstorm to deal with than even the NBA lockout itself. The lockout wasn’t a personal attack on fans or about the game. It was about money. Those decisions weren’t directly hurting any of us. This one did.
This decision brings to light all the problems with the NBA and all the problems fans have with the sport.
No fans want to lose their superstars, but for whatever reason the NBA has a worse reputation for allowing it to happen. Reality is it happens in all sports, and more stars stay put than leave, but the difference now is David Stern interfered with that balance. The players association is rightly pissed. You can’t have a commissioner or a league directing free agents or stopping trades. This isn’t your crazy fantasy league. This is pro sports. People complain and are upset, but people don’t feel like there is a big brother watching and moving the pieces around. The is no conspiracy. Now, you’ve opened that can of worms and I don’t know how you shut it. Where does the league go from here?
I think David Stern has to admit to his error and relieve himself of his duties. He got too involved. He lost his focus. This is a pro sports league. Some teams will win, some teams will lose, and some teams will suck. Only one wins a title any given year. You can’t treat this like little league and tell Dan Gilbert we will help you win. Gilbert wasn’t complaining when he had LeBron James and he didn’t complain when his team got the #1 pick this past summer.
Small markets are at a disadvantage in every sport, but as long as they have the opportunity to succeed, there isn’t a major problem.
In the NBA in the last 5 years these smaller market teams have all had moderate to great success: San Antonio, Cleveland, Orlando, Oklahoma City, Memphis, Denver, New Orleans, Utah, and Portland.
In the last 10 years you can add Indiana, Milwaukee, Phoenix, and Sacramento.
The teams that have failed have largely failed because of draft decisions and poor free agent signings.
The Hornets actually made a pretty darn good trade, getting 3 of the top 40-50 players in the league for a top ten player that was prepared to leave them next year. From a competitive standpoint, they did as well as you could do. From a financial standpoint, the league was more upset about the “value” of the franchise without a “franchise player” and the fact the Lakers were potentially ridding themselves of $20 million that would have gone back to the “other” league owners in luxury taxes.
David Stern is in charge of looking after the best interests of the league, but forgot players and fans also matter, not just a few owners.