Over the next 11 months (almost 10 now) until David Stern walks away as NBA Commissioner after 30 years on the job, we are going to be innundated with retrospective interviews and discussions of his time in office and the evolution of the NBA in that time.
Along those lines, Stern spoke at a “Captains of Industry” event in New York Friday, where he was interviewed by Bloomberg Businessweek editor Josh Turangiel. The Web site Gothamist transcribed and gives us some of the best quotes out of the discussion.
Stern on his relationship with Michael Jordan:
“It’s good. I call him up and bust his chops when his team is not doing well, which is a lot.”
Stern on the issue of race in the NBA (when he started working for the league in 1978 race was one of the league’s key image issues and now it is an almost non-existent marketing concern).
“I don’t know if or where it ended, but of course it [race] is an important part of our history. I remember being called by an agent for an advertiser who said he didn’t want to advertise with us anymore because we were getting “too black.” An important columnist at the time, who I won’t name, said, “there’s no way America will accept a majority black league.”
“It’s a much larger story, but race is a part of our story, maybe it always will be, or at least an undercurrent, but it’s wonderfully, wonderfully ignored by a generation of people who just grew up being basketball fans.”
Stern talked about the growth of the NBA on television.
“In 1978 I was hired as general council, and I thought, I’ll do it for two years with a one year option. I figured it was a fun opportunity that I didn’t want to look back on and say I passed up…
At that time the finals were televised on tape delay and the only time we made the national stage was because of acts of violence or race issues.
Weekend day games were one of the few ways we could get live broadcasts, and I remember the Houston vs. Celtics finals we scheduled back-to-back Saturday and Sunday day games just to have the live telecast. Compare that to now, LeBron James had probably been seen more by high school than Wilt Chamberlain or Bill Russell had been in their entire careers.
And the off the wall question of the day: Would he want to be mayor of New York City?
“I’m not crazy.”
Matt Barnes is an instigator. He has been arrested for domestic violence. He also had a weird thing where he implied he was dating Rihanna only for her to claim they’d never never met.
Which is to say this is believable – that the Grizzlies forward attacked Knicks coach Derek Fisher for dating his estranged wife.
Ian Mohr of the New York Post:
Sources said Fisher was at the LA home of Gloria Govan — Barnes’ estranged wife, who stars on “Basketball Wives LA” — on Saturday. Fisher and Govan have been dating for “a few months,” a source said, after Fisher filed to divorce his wife of 10 years, Candace, in March.
But when Barnes learned that Fisher was at his former home with Gloria, he drove 95 miles to LA to “beat the s–t” out of Fisher, sources said.
“Derek was in Gloria’s back yard with about 10 people having a bonfire on Saturday,” said a source. “Derek’s separated from his wife and there’s a relationship with [Gloria].”
The source added, “Barnes was in Santa Barbara [at Memphis Grizzlies training camp] and heard that Fisher was in his house. He went crazy. He got in his car and went to the house and went after Fisher.”
A source close to Fisher confirmed the fight but said, “Matt came after Derek but he only had a few scratches … Derek’s not going to press charges, he’s going to let it go.”
Even if Fisher – who missed practice Monday for what the Knicks called “personal reasons” – isn’t pressing charges, the NBA is investigating.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:
This is a weird jurisdictional issue, especially if no criminal charges are filed. But I wouldn’t be surprised if the league punishes Barnes – a former Lakers teammate of Fisher – if it finds evidence to support the Post’s description of events.
Caron Butler wrote an autobiography, a recently published excerpt details his accounting of the Gilbert Arenas-Javaris Crittenton gun incident when they were with the Wizards.
An excerpt of the excerpt in The Washington Post:
When I entered the locker room, I thought I had somehow been transported back to my days on the streets of Racine. Gilbert was standing in front of his two locker stalls, the ones previously used by Michael Jordan, with four guns on display. Javaris was standing in front of his own stall, his back to Gilbert.
“Hey, MF, come pick one,” Gilbert told Javaris while pointing to the weapons. “I’m going to shoot your [expletive] with one of these.”
“Oh no, you don’t need to shoot me with one of those,” said Javaris, turning around slowly like a gunslinger in the Old West. “I’ve got one right here.”
He pulled out his own gun, already loaded, cocked it, and pointed it at Gilbert.
Other players who had been casually arriving, laughing and joking with each other, came to a sudden halt, their eyes bugging out. It took them only a few seconds to realize this was for real, a shootaround of a whole different nature. They all looked at each other and then they ran, the last man out locking the door behind him.
Somebody outside the locker room called 911. Flip Saunders was the coach back then, but he was too scared to even come into the locker room.
Click through to read the entire excerpt. It’s captivating.
Arenas is essentially retired and still spouting off silly takes.
Crittenton is currently serving a 23-year sentence for voluntary manslaughter.
Butler plays for the Kings.