The public backlash against NBA commissioner David Stern over his handling of recent Chris Paul trade talks just got an added boost of superstar juice.
New Jersey Nets All-Star point guard Deron Williams slammed, calling him a "bully" repeatedly, in comments made on Sunday, one day after the Lakers pulled out of extended 3-team trade talks that would have landed the New Orleans Hornets All-Star point guard in Los Angeles.
The New York Daily News has a rundown of Williams' public critique, which could very well end up drawing a fine from the commissioner's office.
"You’re fighting a bully. David Stern is a bully, you can’t really go up against him,” Williams said.It's hard to dispute Williams' sentiment given how harshly the NBA lockout played out and how authoritarian Stern's stance on the Paul trade appears from the outside, although this type of candor is rare in the NBA as the league office tends to respond harshly to even the slightest criticism from amongst its ranks.
Williams didn’t back off when asked again. “He knows he’s a bully. It’s not a secret,” Williams said, laughing. “You got to be. I think every owner of every big business is a bully. That’s how they become successful.”
Williams said he has tried to contact Paul recently, but understands his friend is in a “tough situation.”
Williams is an obvious ally for Paul, who saw a great chance to leave behind a disorganized Hornets organization to play for the league's premier organization explode over the last 72 hours. Williams and Paul are friends, were drafted in the same year, led small-market teams against the big dogs for years and are now anxiously looking forward to flex their muscles and improve their NBA situation with free agency approaching. Of course Williams will stand by Paul publicly: he realizes that if something like this can happen to CP3, it can happen to D-Will too.
The outcry over Stern's decision to step in and veto the Paul-to-the-Lakers trade on Thursday also led Indiana Pacers forward Danny Granger to joke that he was considering changing his last name to "Stern's B****." Paul threatened not to show up to training camp and Lakers forward Lamar Odom, who was also involved in the trade proposal, did not participate in Lakers camp on Friday and was promptly traded to the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday.
Stern's heavy-handedness towards players was a hot topic during the lockout. Television commentator Bryant Gumbel criticized Stern for acting like a "modern plantation overseer" and NBPA attorney Jeffrey Kessler said that Stern treated the players "like plantation workers."