David Stern reflects on his time as commissioner, good and bad

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When David Stern announced he was stepping down as commissioner in 15 months on Thursday, he tried, or at least feigned trying, not to reminisce on his time as commissioner.

But Stern also likes to talk.

And so he did at a press conference about the NBA Board of Governors meeting that became about Stern retiring. He was asked what the best and worst times of his to be 30 years as NBA commissioner were.

“The best is a long list of things, it’s hard to even pick,” Stern said, before going on to pick. “That our Olympic team in 1992 was able to show the world how great our players were, despite some previous questions about our players and their place of the world. To me that was a high point but it just keeps getting better than that.

“The low point… I haven’t enjoyed the responsibility of having to end careers, which I haven’t had to do recently, with respect to drug use and the like many years ago. One of my preseason phone calls each year, this year was from Michael Ray (Richardson), who is up and coaching again in Ontario, Canada. That wasn’t a great situation for me personally.

“But for the most part it’s been a series of extraordinary experiences and enormous putting together of pieces of a puzzle. And it goes on forever. And there will always be another piece of the puzzle, and so the question is ‘at what point do you decide to let somebody else do it?’ And that’s the point it is at now.”

That 1992 Olympic team started to spread the NBA gospel overseas, and that international growth has become a passion of Sterns (something the owners like as it pads their pocketbooks). Without the Dream Team the internationalization of the NBA would have been slower.

Stern banned several players from the game for drug use — Michael Ray Richardson, Roy Tarpley, Richard Dumas, and most recently Chris Andersen (but he also was later reinstated), among others.

Stern’s legacy, which will get hashed out here and everywhere over the next 15 months, is generally positive but far from perfect. There were two lockouts and if you think Stern did no wrong you should go ask the people of Seattle. But in terms of marketing, he got it, he saw the NBA as a star-driven league and expertly rode the wave of Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and then Michael Jordan to new heights.

It slipped after Jordan finally retired and may be tough to get back there, but Stern is leaving Adam Silver a league with the potential to return to those days. With marketable stars and a prominent place in the culture. We’ll see what Silver can do with that .

Rumor: LeBron James would ‘never’ join Clippers

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The Clippers hired Jerry West, in part, to help lure LeBron James.

But even with LeBron-to-Los Angeles (Clippers or Lakers) rumors swirling, that plan might not even get off the ground.

Mike Wise of The Undefeated on Freddie and Fritz:

I’m going to give you something on this show, and this is breaking news. Nobody else is going to have it.

I got from a very good authority – a very good authority – that LeBron James will never be a Clipper. I can’t tell you who, but I’m going to tell you it’s somebody that knows, and LeBron James will never be a Clipper. I don’t know if that’s because he remembers what the Clippers used to be, or he just doesn’t want to put his lot in there, or he thinks Steve Ballmer is just too animated on the sideline.

He’s never going to be a Clipper. I’m just telling people right now, for your edification. I’m breaking this on the Freddie Coleman and Fitz show.

I don’t believe in “never” in situations like this. As Jerry Seinfeld would say, teams are just laundry. The Clippers can change owners, general managers, coaches, players. LeBron would remain absolutely opposed to joining?

Maybe, but I won’t go that far without knowing his reason for resisting the Clippers. A lot can change between now and 2018, when LeBron can opt out.

One of the Clippers’ biggest selling points was always going to be Chris Paul, LeBron’s close friend. Reading the tea leaves, maybe this is a sign Paul will leave this summer – for the Spurs, Rockets or somewhere else.

Hornets’ Malik Monk expected to miss Summer League with sprained ankle

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Malik Monk‘s game is a perfect fit for Summer League: The tempo is up, the guards have the ball in their hands, the plays are basic, and the defense is inconsistent (to be kind). Monk’s ability to create shots for himself, score in transition off pull-ups or attacking the rim, and his ability to score on spot-up chances coming off screens means he would put up numbers in the glorified pick-up games of Summer League.

Except we’re not going to get to see it this year. Monk will miss Summer League due to a sprained ankle suffered during the pre-draft workout process, the Charlotte Hornets announced. The team says his rehab process is 2-4 weeks, but they are not going to push their new player just to get him in some meaningless Summer League games.

Charlotte was lucky Monk fell down the draft board to them at 11, he was rated higher than that on most boards. He can score at the NBA level, how far his career goes will depend on his ability to do other things, particularly defend. His style of game is similar to Lou Williams or Monta Ellis, both of whom have had long NBA careers because they can just get buckets.

That would have been fun to see in Summer League, but maybe next year.

La La Anthony: I’m staying in New York, and Carmelo Anthony prioritizes staying close to our son

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Self-serving Knicks president Phil Jackson said Carmelo Anthonywould be better off somewhere else.”

Anthony’s wife, La La Anthony, revealed a different point of view when asked whether she’d divorce the star forward and about trade rumors involving him.

La La on The Wendy Williams Show:

Not right now. I’m not. You know, marriages are tough. And you know that. We all know that. It’s filled with ups and downs. And we’re just going through a time right now.

But him and I are the best of friends, and our number one commitment is to our son, Kiyan. We have to set an example to Kiyan, and that’s what’s most important to me. So, I would absolutely never say a bad thing about my husband. That is my son’s father, and he is an amazing dad. I could not ask for a better dad.

Every day, I see a different team. That’s for sure.

The most important thing with just that is to stay close to Kiyan. That’s my priority. That’s his priority.

So, wherever he ends up, of course we want him to be happy.

I am hood, and I want to stay close to the hood. So, New York is definitely where I’m at and where I’m staying.

The Knicks are lousy, and working for Jackson is no treat. Carmelo knows all that.

But this might reveal why Anthony hasn’t – and, according to Jackson, still won’t – waive his no-trade clause to approve a deal from New York. There are things that matter more than basketball.

Danilo Gallinari: Nuggets aren’t my first choice in free agency

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Pending free agents almost always express loyalty to their current team, whether or not they actually plan to re-sign.

That’s what makes Danilo Gallinari‘s comments stand out.

Gallinari, via Premium Sport, as translated by E. Carchia of Sportando:

“Nuggets are not my first choice but they are exactly at the same level of the other teams. Denver’s advantage is that they can offer me a five-year contract while other franchises can offer me a four-year deal. Nuggets are at the same level of the others” Gallinari said.

One way to look at this: If a player stating a desire to return to his team – even if he plans to leave – is the baseline, Gallinari is definitely gone from Denver.

Another: Gallinari is being exceedingly honest, and we should just take his comments at face value.