David Stern, Jim Rome interview on lottery turns nasty

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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?

Stern: Yes.

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.

Three things to watch: Boston Celtics vs. Washington Wizards

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1. How much will these teams’ disdain for each other color the series?

Back in January, the Wizards wore all black for a figurative funeral while arriving for a game against the Celtics then buried Boston in a 123-108 win.

But the Celtics are still alive and ready for the next stage in a rivalry that has included:

Both teams appear primed for more hijinks. The Wizards taunted the Hawks throughout their first-round series, and Boston crossed the line with the Bulls.

2. Which team is actually better?

The Wizards outpaced the Celtics in my adjusted-for-playoff-rotation rankings before the postseason began. But getting a clear picture of who’s in the teams’ playoff rotations and counting the first round turns the tables.

Here’s both teams’ offensive, defensive and net ratings from the regular season to counting only lineups (regular season and first round) comprised of five players projected to be in the teams’ rotation this series:

1. Boston Celtics

  • Offensive rating: 112.4 to 116.2
  • Defensive rating: 109.8 to 110.4
  • Net rating: +2.6 to +5.8

4. Washington Wizards

  • Offensive rating: 111.7 to 115.6
  • Defensive rating:  110.0 to 110.5
  • Net rating: +1.7 to +5.1

Even with the flaws in these numbers – small sample sizes and no control for competition – the question of which team will put a better team on the floor in this series isn’t everything. Boston has home-court advantage, and that matters.

The complete updated playoff-rotation-adjusted ratings will be released Monday, after the first round ends.

3. How will the MVP-vote-getting point guards match up?

Both the Celtics and Wizards are reasonably deep, but good luck keeping your eyes off their star point guards. Isaiah Thomas and John Wall both received fifth-place MVP votes, tributes to their importance to their teams.

Thomas is Boston’s lone reliable scorer, and that brings a heavy fourth-quarter burden – which he has answered all year. Even when opponents know he’ll get the ball, they haven’t stopped him. Wall also drives Washington’s offense, though he does it with a more balanced passing and scoring attack throughout the game.

But Wall’s primary argument for superiority over other big-name point guards – including Thomas – is his defense. The 6-foot-4 Wall will have an opportunity to show that against the 5-foot-9 Thomas. Likewise, Thomas has a chance to pester Wall enough to show the defensive gap isn’t too wide.

Warriors hope to get Shaun Livingston, Matt Barnes back for second round

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The Golden State Warriors hope to get injured reserves Shaun Livingston and Matt Barnes back from injuries for the second round of the playoffs after getting more than a week off between series.

The Warriors said Saturday that Barnes has been upgraded to probable for Tuesday night’s Game 1 and Livingston remains questionable but is hopeful he will be ready to return. Star forward Kevin Durant is expected to be a full go after missing two games and being limited to 20 minutes in Game 4 last round because of a strained left calf.

Barnes has been sidelined since April 8, while Livingston sprained a finger on his right hand in Game 1 of the first-round against Portland.

Golden State begins the second round at home on Tuesday night against the winner of Sunday’s Game 7 between the Los Angeles Clippers and Utah Jazz. The Warriors have been off since sweeping the Trail Blazers last Monday, giving them more than a week between games.

“I’m trying to make sure I rest it as much as I possibly can, because when I do come back I plan on staying all the way back,” Livingston said Saturday. “Hopefully it will be ready for Tuesday.”

After taking Tuesday and Thursday off following their first-round sweep, the Warriors practiced for a second straight day Saturday. They plan to practice again on Sunday and then again Monday once they know their second-round opponent.

There is no update on the status of coach Steve Kerr, who missed the final two games of the first round because of complications from two back surgeries. Kerr talks daily with interim coach Mike Brown and took part in coaching meetings Friday but was not at practice on Saturday.

PBT Extra: Rockets vs. Spurs far more than Kawhi Leonard vs. James Harden

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Kawhi Leonard vs. James Harden. Two MVP candidates matching up in the second round of the NBA playoffs.

However, the San Antonio Spurs vs. Houston Rockets is much more than that.

It’s a battle of pace. It’s a chess match between two of the best coaches in the game. It’s about which team’s role players are going to step up.

I talk about all of that in this latest PBT Extra. Plus, of course, when Leonard will guard Harden.

How to start your Saturday night: Watching 15 minutes of best plays from NBA season

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There are no NBA playoff games Saturday night, the first night since the start of the postseason there hasn’t been one game. Don’t worry, there are two games on Sunday, including Game 7 between the Jazz and Clippers.

But if you need a Saturday night fix, this will have to do: 15 minutes of the best plays from last season, as compiled by NBA.com.

Go ahead, watch it. You’ve got nothing better to do.