David Stern is on his “ain’t the NBA swell” media tour, having a press conference before Game 1 in Oklahoma City and doing a few other select media outlets.
That included the Jim Rome show, the very popular, syndicated radio show with the man who parlayed that into an ESPN and now CBS television show.
As he has been throughout his last couple public media tours, Stern was asked about the NBA draft lottery and the impression by some — including some in NBA front offices — that it is fixed. Stern pushed back. Here is a transcript (follow this link to the audio).
Rome: Was the fix in for the lottery?
Stern:: You know, I have two answers for that. I’ll give you the easy one — no. And a statement: Shame on you for asking.
Rome: I understand why you would say that to me, and I wanted to preface it by saying it respectfully, but I think it’s my job to ask because I think people wonder.
Stern: No, it’s ridiculous, but that’s okay.
Rome: I know you think it’s ridiculous but I don’t think the question is ridiculous because I know people think that. I think it’s my job to ask that.
Stern: Have you stopped beating your wife yet? [Editor’s note: This is a legal turn of phrase referring to people who pose an unfair line of questioning without facts in evidence, and remember that Stern is a lawyer. Basically, he’s not accusing Rome of actual abuse, he’s questioning he question in an aggressive manor.]
Rome: (Pause) I don’t know if that’s fair.
Stern: Why is that?
Rome: Because I think… I know you read your emails and I’m sure you follow things virally and on twitter — people really do think it. Whether it’s fair or not. You don’t think the question is fair to ask it if your fans believe it?
Stern: People think it because people like you ask silly questions. I expect it to be written about and all. Actually, I commented last night at my presser that there was one guy, who I won’t dignify by naming, who said “I have no reason to know anything, and I don’t know anything, but I tell you I believe it’s fixed.” Okay, that’s good. Why is that? Because if this team won it. But if that team won it it would have been fixed also. And if that team won it it would have been fixed also. And if every team was invited to have a representative there, and if four members of the media were invited to be there, and if Ernst & Young certified it, you still think? “Yes.”
Rome: I think two things and I want your response. First, I don’t think (it was rigged). I’m not covering myself, I don’t think so. But by asking the question it would not suggest that I think so. But the one thing I would say is the league does own the team (New Orleans). Does it not?
Rome: Does that not make the question fair?
Stern: I don’t think so. Number one we sold it, we’re going to close this week. We have already established our price. I think if it had gone to Michael Jordan, which was the next team up in terms of a high percentage, they would have said David is taking care of his friend Michael. And if it had gone to Brooklyn, which is going into Barclay Center, it would have been fair to speculate, I suppose, that we wanted to take Brooklyn off of the mat. So there was no winning…. But that’s not a question I’ve been asked before by a respectable journalist.
It got worse. Stern goes on to accuse Rome of using “cheap” questions to further his career, something Rome took serious offense to as it questioned his integrity. They ended the conversation, hanging up on pretty tense terms not long after.