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9 Reasons Why People Don’t Like NBA Commissioner David Stern

by: Esteban On  Wednesday, December 28, 2011

why people don't like nba commissioner david stern
 Doesn’t it seem like whenever something weird happens in the NBA, commissioner David Stern has a hand in it? This week it was the Chris Paul trade fiasco, and just a few weeks before that it was the completely unnecessary NBA lockout. It just seems like the man can’t go more than a couple of years without getting involved in some kind of controversy. And given that he’s been the league’s commissioner for 27 years, that add up to a lot of negative press.

Today we bring you 9 reasons why people just don’t like the NBA commissioner—or in other words, a list of David Stern’s career lowlights. Because negativity is fun!

9. 1985 Draft Lottery Debacle

Do you like conspiracy theories? If so, you’ll love this one. At the 1985 NBA draft lottery the names of the teams eligible for the top pick were put in envelopes and then spun around inside a big bin. The conspiracy theory holds that one of the envelopes was tossed in the bin in such a way that it bent the corner; then David Stern deliberately picked the envelope with the bent corner.

I must admit that at first I was skeptical of this one. But when you watch the video, it does seem like David Stern picks the envelope in a strange manner. Also, just before picking, he takes a deep breath like he’s nervous or something. It’s probably nothing, but you be the judge.

Either way, stuff like this is why people (like Mark Cuban) say the league is fixed.

8. 2007 Suns-Spurs Playoff Suspensions

Phoenix Suns v San Antonio Spurs, Game 4In the 1990s David Stern implemented a rule that says any player who “leaves the bench” during a fight will be suspended for a minimum of one game. The idea was that there needs to be consequences for guys who get into fights. Sounds fair…if you apply it with common sense. Sadly, in 2007, the rule was not applied with common sense.

In Game 4 of a heated series between the Suns and Spurs, a flagrant foul on MVP Steve Nash by the Spurs’ Robert Horry initiated a little mini-brawl on the court. During the fracas, Suns superstar forward Amare Stoudemire and another player (Boris Diaw) “left the bench”; however, they did not take part in the fight. They just literally got up off the bench and went over to see what was happening.

What did Stern do? He followed the letter of the law rather than the spirit of the law and suspended them for one game. Pretty much everyone on the planet thought Stern should make an exception in this case, since Stoudemire was so crucial to the Suns and this was such a big series. But he didn’t, and the Suns lost the next game and the series. Nice.

7. Nonsensical Team Relocations

Oklahoma City ThunderUnder Stern’s watch, the league has had several embarrassing franchise relocations—most notably those of the Grizzlies, Hornets, and Sonics. Why are they embarrassing? Well, in general, it’s not good to have teams moving all around. You want stability, because it’s hard to build a fan base if people just think the team’s going to move as soon as the going gets tough anyway. But sometimes you need to move a team and there’s nothing that can be done. In those cases, you at least want to move a team to a betterlocation than they were in before. And this is problem with the league’s most recent moves.

The Grizzlies moved from Vancouver, a big city with over 2 million people, to Memphis, a small city with a sprawling population and no history of supporting major pro sports teams.

The Hornets moved from basketball-mad North Carolina because people in NC hated owner George Shinn, but he wouldn’t sell the team. So they moved to New Orleans, then Shinn sells the team—but to the league, because nobody in New Orleans wants to buy them. Of course, in the meantime, the league put a new expansion team in Charlotte. Why not have him sell the team to the league while they were in Charlotte? Because that would have made sense.

Last but not least, we have the case of the Seattle Sonics. Inexplicably, David Stern supported the move of this franchise from the nation’s 14th largest market to the nation’s 45th largest market, Oklahoma City.

6. The Chris Paul Nonsense

chris paulTeam officials with the NBA-owed New Orleans Hornets arranged a three-team trade that would have sent Chris Paul to the Lakers, Lamar Odom to New Orleans, and Pau Gasol to the Rockets. But David Stern, who as commissioner is basically the owner of the Hornets, intervened and killed the deal.

Now, was this the best deal the Hornets could have gotten for all-star Chris Paul? Well, as the trade that was actually completed a few days ago revealed, no. Stern ended up doing the best thing for the Hornets by getting rid of a big contract and getting a bunch of cheap young talent, all of which will help the team get sold to a real owner.

But here’s the problem: as commissioner, Stern should not be involved in trades like this at all. It’s calledconflict of interest, folks.

5. The New Basketball Nobody Wanted

2006 NBA microfiber game ballPrior to the 2006-07 season, the Commish announced that the NBA would be switching from the traditional leather ball to a new microfiber ball. Did he consult the players, the ones who actually use the ball? No, of course not.

So what happened? Players hated it. They said it was slippery (which is was), and then it actually led to a number of documented hand injuries. Thus, midway through the season, the league had to go back to the old leather ball.

4. The NBA Dress Code

nba dress codePrior to the 2005-06 season, David Stern created an official NBA dress code that forbade players from wearing headphones, chains, shorts, sleeveless shirts, sunglasses (indoors), t-shirts, jerseys (ironically) and baseball caps during NBA-related public appearances.

Now personally, I like the idea of a dress code. Guys in the other 3 major sports leagues all dress like professionals, and people like it. And more importantly, you get paid millions of dollars; if your boss wants you to dress a certain way, then I say that’s reasonable. Nevertheless, some people (like Allen Iverson) didn’t like the dress code and insinuated that David Stern was being a bit racist.

Like I said, personally, I don’t blame Stern for this. Hell, even Jay-Z realized he needed an image makeover and started wearing Versace suits. But some people do hold it against the Commish, so it makes the list.

3. The Lockout, Part I

1998 nba lockoutWe’ll skip the events that led to the 1998-99 NBA Lockout and cut to how things were handled after the lockout ended.

And yeah, things were handled poorly. The league crammed 50 games in after February 5, meaning it wasn’t so much a shortened season as it was a condensed season. Add this to the fact that there was virtually no time for teams to get into shape before games kicked off (the deal was reached on January 6, signed on January 20, and play started February 5), and what you have is probably the worst season in league history in terms of quality of play.

Because the games were packed so tightly together, teams had to play bench players more than normal. Charles Barkley put it best: “If you look at the league, I’ll tell you that there are a lot of bad players out there. Those guys that you normally play 10 or 12 minutes a night are playing 25 minutes a night because there are so many games, and they can’t play.”

It was just embarrassing.

2. The 1999 Timberwolves Beatdown

joe smithAfter the 1998-99 lockout, teams get only a month to make trades, sign free agents, and prepare for the season. While doing all this, they also had to figure out the leagues ridiculously complicated salary cap restrictions. This led to the Timberwolves making a big mistake. Under serious pressure, they tried to get around the salary cap by getting forward Joe Smith to agree to a deal that paid him below market value for one year before giving him bigger money in the future.

This is against the rules, but a lot of teams were trying to figure out ways to get around the salary cap with only a month to prepare for the season. The T-Wolves and pretty much all observers thought the league would go easy on violations that year.

Wrong. David Stern threw the book at them, taking away their first round draft pick for 3 years and fining them $3.5 million. Why? Well, a lot of people said one of the reasons the lockout happened in 1998 was because owners were pissed off about the monster contract the T-Wolves gave to Kevin Garnett. So the hunch is that Stern whacked the T-Wolves (who have sucked ever since) as a favor to the owners.


1. The Lockout, Part II

Last season, everyone knew there might be some trouble getting a new collective bargaining agreement in place before the start of the 2011-12 season. But David Stern really made a lockout inevitable with a really bizarre (and creepy) statement during a meeting midway through last season. He told a group of players and executives that he knew “where the bodies are buried” in the NBA because he buried them himself.

What? The bodies? With cryptic stuff like that, it’s no wonder things didn’t get worked out in time to avoid a shortened season.

Good job, Dave.