ESPN.com has reported that David Stern will step down as NBA commissioner on Feb. 1, 2014, after serving for 30 years.
He will hand the reins to current deputy commissioner Adam Silver.
I don’t know how to begin other than saying, “It’s about freaking time!”
Stern has been fine as commissioner at times, particularly in setting certain rules and cleaning up the thuggery the NBA was known for during a period of time. But he also is a pathological egomaniac.
You may remember stories leaking out on NBA inside chat rooms about how he yells and screams. It was reported during the lockout last summer many thought he was demeaning to the players.
If you have ever heard him do a radio interview, like I have many times, you can’t help but scream at the radio when he talks. He avoids questions and insults the person asking them in a condescending, arrogant way.
The most famous example of this was when Jim Rome asked Stern on his show about the NBA lottery being rigged. Rome began with a disclaimer that he didn’t believe it, but some crazed fans did and he was looking for Stern to put them at ease with a well-thought out answer. Instead he got this:
Rome: “…was the fix in for the lottery?”
Stern: “No, and a statement: shame on you for asking.”
Rome: “I understand why you would say that to me. I think it’s my job to ask because I think people wonder.”
Stern: “No, it’s ridiculous. But that’s OK.”
Rome: “I know you think it’s ridiculous, but I don’t think the question’s ridiculous, because I know people who think that. I’m not saying that I do, but I think it’s my job to ask you that.”
Stern: “Have you stopped beating your wife yet?”
Rome: “I don’t know if that’s fair.
Stern: “Why is that?”
Rome: “Because I know you read your emails and you probably follow on Twitter, and people really do think it, whether it’s fair or not. You don’t think it’s fair to ask if your fans think it? I don’t think [it's rigged], but the one thing I would say is that the league does own the team. Does that not make the question fair?”
Stern: “I don’t think so, we’ve sold it. We’re going to close the deal this week. We set our price. I think if it had gone to Michael Jordan people would say ‘Oh, David’s taking care of his friend Michael,’ and if it had gone to Brooklyn which is going into Barclay Center, it would be fair to speculate that we want to take Brooklyn off of the mat, so there was no winning. And people write about it, and it’s OK to write about it, and we sort of expect it. But that’s not a question that I’ve been asked before by a respectable journalist. ”
Stern wasn’t done there though.
Stern: “It’s good copy and sometimes you do things for cheap thrills.”
Rome: “No, not at all. That’s my point, that’s our point of disconnect. That was not for a cheap thrill and I wasn’t throwing anything against the wall, and I was trying to be as respectful as possible. I’m just saying that people wonder about that. I don’t want to say “Hey, Commissioner, people would say..” because I’m going to ask a direct question, but people wonder. But that was not a cheap thrill.”
Stern: “It was a cheap trick.”
Rome: “Flopping is a cheap trick.”
Now, I am the first to say I am not a “Clone” or a Jungle Insider for Jim Rome. He can be arrogant, but he is a heck of an interviewer. If you are the NBA, do you want your owner acting like a petulant child responding to questions with, “Have you stopped beating your wife, yet?”
It’s hard to call Stern the worst sports commissioner with the Dictator — err, I mean Roger Goodell — ruining football as we know it, Bud Selig seemingly staring off into space and ignoring the need for expanded replay for as long as possible, and Gary Bettman and the NHL in yet another lockout.
But Stern will NOT be missed. Just look at the latest example of Stern overstepping his bounds.
This new flopping system which will elicit fines and even suspensions is ludicrous. I understand he thinks flops are ruining the game, but every sport has intent to deceive the officials. That’s what the wily veterans do to keep up with the young, spry rookies.
If he really wants to crack down, just do what soccer did. Officials can now hand out a yellow card for excessive flopping in soccer and I think simply calling the foul on the defender for flopping would help deter it. If the flop is egregious, just give them a technical and be done with it.
This is an example of Stern thinking he knows what’s best and imposing his will on the game.
I can only hope Silver will be a better commissioner who doesn’t try and make it about himself.
Who do you think is the worst commissioner in sports?