David Stern’s Lasting Impression

Get ready sardines and liver, David Stern is going to leave a worse taste in people’s mouths than you.

I’ll be the first to point out that David Stern has been commissioner longer than I’ve been alive. Therefore I obviously wasn’t around for the frozen envelope stuff and what not, but in my recent years of NBA fandom you can see the wheels falling off.

Yes, Stern, Bird and Magic may be credited with saving the NBA, but the lasting impression of Stern certainly isn’t a pleasant one.

Because of my limited viewpoint, so to speak, we’ll start with the things that have occurred in my years of fandom.

First off there’s Stern’s love affair with small markets. I’m all for this when you put a team in a small-to-medium sized market where it’s the only show in town. Places like Portland are fine because the market is somewhat large/marketable, but it’s not ok when you move a team from a large market (Seattle, maybe?) to one that is almost microscopic in comparison (Oklahoma City, perhaps? ).

So, that decision was obviously flawed.

Then there’s the whole thing with Chris Paul. He botched the entire trade, ok? A couple things were wrong with the whole situation. This whole deal got thrown into a media maelstrom. We all know who’s going where. Pau Gasol was going to Houston, Lamar Odom, Luis Scola and Kevin Martin would go to New Orleans. Yadda, yadda yadda.

You can look back on it now and make some conclusions from the whole thing. One, if this trade happens, Paul is a Laker. That means no Steve Nash in LA, and yes, Dwight Howard probably goes to LA. But the thing here is that Paul doesn’t go to the Clippers. The Clippers are then condemned to at least 2-3 more years of being the “dark-horse contender who looks like they have a shot in the off-season, and then they play the first game of the season, lose by twenty to the Trailblazers, and the season basically ends there.”

The Rockets would have acquired Pau Gasol. They would have had their superstar, and none of this Linsanity/James Harden stuff happens.

New Orleans, then, doesn’t come close to winning the lottery with Martin, Scola, Odom and Goran Dragic on the team. If that happens, they definitely don’t get Anthony Davis, and the entire situation changes in New Orleans. Not to mention Eric Gordon doesn’t become part of their core either.

That, if you do the math, in one singular trade, seriously affected the future of five different NBA teams: The Lakers, Clippers, Rockets, Hornets and Suns. (Phoenix, because if Paul goes to the Lakers, they obviously don’t need Steve Nash. Then who knows what happens with him or what Phoenix gets in return.) No one should have that much power to be able to flip one switch and affect a sixth of the entire league.

Conan O’Brien used to, and still does, this little bit where he pets the air above his lap as if a white cat were there, mocking some executive who pulls all the strings. It’s extremely funny, but it also illustrates to a tee what Stern has been.

A commissioner shouldn’t have power to a point where he dictates what goes on in the league.

I’m not sure if a commissioner is allowed to be biased towards one team or another, or rather an owner of a team to another owner.

Throughout the entire Sonics travesty, and even as you read this, it’s clear that David Stern is a Clay Bennett “fan,” to put it nicely. Whether or not he wanted to keep the league in Seattle, no one can really say, but he sure as heck wanted it in OKC and even led the league to intervene against a 2008 legal effort from Howard Shultz to keep the team in the Emerald City.

So, that’s another two franchises that Stern has influenced, the Sonics and Raiders.

What I’m really getting at is that Stern has and had way too much sway over how things went towards the end of his career and depending on how you look at it no matter how you view him, he’s going to leave a worse taste in your mouth than that dreaded liver.

One thought on “David Stern’s Lasting Impression

  1. Point/counterpoint, Know.

    Stern will go down as one of the greatest sports commissioners of all time.

    He took a sport that was considered “too black” and made it what it is today. Of course, he had the help of the perfectly marketable Michael’s and Magic’s and Larry’s and Kobe’s to do so, but let’s not kid ourselves. There was talent in the league well before he got there and that sort of growth never happened.

    He brought television viewership up thirty-fold and is largely responsible for the influx of the European and Latin superstar, something the NFL has yet been able to accomplish.

    He can perhaps fairly be criticized for his dress code enforcement but I ask you, don’t other major corporations have similar dress codes for their employees?

    Yes, Seattle got shafted but OKC was chomping at the bit to get a team and the city and its fan base have done fairly well in attendance. As a result, Stern’s given Sacramento every chance to stay there, which also might not be the best thing.

    Either way, Stern’s legacy, his entire body of work, was pretty darned impressive. We must ask ourselves, is the game better off than when he took over and that answer, is invariably, yes.

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