Blog Entry

Stern comments on small markets and rule changes

Posted on: April 27, 2011 5:21 pm
David Stern comments to a Miami radio show on a number of issues. 
Posted by Matt Moore

David Stern joined 790 The Ticket in Miami to talk about, well, quite a bit, actually. Sports Radio Interviews caught it and shares with us. So we're going to break down the finer points of what Stern decided to touch on. 
If he believes this year’s NBA regular season was one of the best ever:

“You know, I think so. But there have been so many that back in the day, the Celtics, the 76ers, the Lakers, and everybody else, that it’s hard to say. But I think it’s up there, it’s in the top three of the most interesting in probably the last 30 years or so, and really the introduction of so many new young stars.”
I think you have to make the argument this was the best for a much simpler reason. Access. Not only do you have star-studded teams in Miami, Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York, but you have so much more access to them now than you did back in the league's hayday.  League Pass, League Pass Mobile, local television deals, national broadcasts split across two network families,  great blogs (like, oh, this one), new stats, replays on NBATV, there's about a million ways to experience the NBA.  Compare that with the "catch the occasional game on tape delay, go to it live, or else you're just reading box scores in the paper" of the 1980's, and the league has been able not only to capitalize on the biggest stars, but to make those big moments even bigger.  Chris Paul plays in New Orleans, Dwight Howard in Orlando, Blake Griffin for the lowly Clippers, and still those are household names. It makes you wonder why so many players think you need to go to a big city to get attention. Speaking of desperate needs for attention...
Did he secretly pump his first in delight that LeBron, Wade and Bosh were uniting as he thought about the kind of ‘jolt’ the trio would bring to the league:

“No, I thought it would be a great jolt for Miami. If I’m remembering correctly, I mean, did they sign Chris (Bosh) before? The day before? I just remember thinking boy, this is going to be great for the fans of Miami, and not so great for the fans of Cleveland and Toronto. You know, I’ve got lots of franchises here, lots of charges. So I worry about them all.”
Well that's partially true, anyway. But considering the hands-off approach he took to discussion of collusion, and the fact that small markets continue to struggle to remain competitive (don't let Hornets-Lakers fool you), not like the priorities are equal. The Commish took a much bigger interest in New York being off the map rather than Cleveland's plummet into disaster. On the flip side, Stern has repeatedly and consistently spoke of the need for an improved revenue sharing plan in the future, without undermining the ownership group's efforts to keep that to a separate discussion. Stern's not oblivious or hard-hearted to the plight of smaller markets. But you can still bet the revenues the Heat brought into the gate brought a grin. 
After being asked about fining Cavs owner Dan Gilbert for his actions after LeBron left Cleveland, Stern was asked about not fining Clippers owner Donald Sterling for heckling his own players:
“Oh, he’s just a fan at that point, and he promised he wouldn’t do it again.” 
  But there was a conversation with Sterling about it, right? 
“Yes, there’s always a conversation with everybody. You know, the best way to describe it is to say that how you deal with something that has passed you, is that you say ‘I assume you didn’t do it, if you did it it was an accident, that you didn’t mean to do it, and if you did do it, you’re not going to do it again. Right?’ Right, okay. Let’s move on.”

Stern has to have had that conversation with Sterling so many times he's actually just running a digital recording of the questions at this point. Maybe it's an automated 1-800 number they set up just for Sterling. "If you made another racially insensitve comment, press '1' now. If you failed to make your team competitive for the fifth season in a row despite every advantage in terms of market and profit-margin, press '2' now." 
What’s the most radical change the league is considering:

“Well I’m going to urge the owners — and it’s not very radical but we were talking about it for awhile — to adopt the international rule on basket interference. That is to say, once the ball hits the rim it’s in play. Because I think that it’s too hard to call. I think that we don’t want to stop the game every time to see if it’s the right call, but the camera that looks down on the basket can tell the story if the refs have gotten it right. And it’s just impossible to call to make whether the ball’s touching the rim, on the rim, off the rim or the like.  And I think that would make the game faster, better, and less controversial. And I think we’re going to be putting in more — I forget the exact number — just more replay opportunities because we really want to get it right. So those are the biggest things. I also think we’re going to be talking about cutting out a timeout or two to move the game along. The last period, even in a close game, shouldn’t begin to approach an hour.”
Big stuff here, including a discussion of the "in the cylinder" rule that narrowly avoided costing the Nuggets a game early in their series with OKC. The D-League has already adopted this league as an exploratory measure, but it's having some issues with it as well. The last point, though, about making that last quarter faster? Everyone, players, fans, media, everyone will probably be on board with that one. 


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