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.”
We’ve seen this movie before.
There is all sorts of buzz around the league that LeBron James has one foot out the door in Cleveland. While people around LeBron denied he the rumor he is “100 percent” leaving, good luck finding any league source who thinks he is staying put next summer. Nothing is set in stone, his options — including staying — remain open, but we’ve all been down this road before.
The hometown fans are going to do their part to urge LeBron to stay.
Fan sentiment has some pull with LeBron (he came back to win the city a title). However, what matters more is a sense of a plan to keep the Cavaliers as title contenders for the coming years — and that is more than just Dan Gilbert paying the tax. The Cavs did nothing this summer that got them closer to beating Golden State, and while they swung for the fences with Paul George, what they really needed was wing defenders and athletes, and they didn’t get those either. Luc Mbah a Moute signed a one-year deal for the minimum somewhere else. Instead, Cleveland overpaid Kyle Korver.
Despite all that, the Cavs remain the team to beat in the East. If Cleveland gets to the Finals — LeBron’s eighth in a row — and they win or make it close, he may see staying as his best option. A season can be a lifetime in the NBA in terms of shifting attitudes. Still, I wouldn’t bet the rent on it.
The Los Angeles Clippers have 14 fully guaranteed contracts on their roster, plus a partial guarantee for DeAndre Liggins (who likely is on the roster opening day). They also are pretty much set at center with DeAndre Jordan and Willie Reed (plus when they go small they can play Blake Griffin there, something I wish they’d do a little more).
That said, Doc Rivers — just a coach now — needs bodies for camp, so in comes former Duke star and Knick Marshall Plumlee, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
Plumlee played in 21 games for the Knicks last season, logging a total of 190 minutes. He bounced between New York and the D-League Westchester Knicks, when down he averaged 12.3 points and 9.8 rebounds a game.
He’s not making the Clippers’ squad (barring injury), but he could show well and get noticed by other teams. Over the course of a season, there will be a need for bigs as guys go down injured, Plumlee is getting a chance to show how his game has developed. And he makes some money in the process.
Much like Kevin Durant, it appears that Kawhi Leonard is having a great summer.
In fact, this appears to be the Summer of Kawhi Smiling. Which, according to one of his longtime teammates, is a bit confusing.
When the Spurs posted a photo of Leonard with a big old grin on his face to their Twitter feed recently, San Antonio legend Manu Ginobili responded asking the team whether something was up.
Specifically, Ginobili said that he had seen more photos of Leonard smiling in the past two days then he had in six seasons as a teammate.
You can leave an anonymous tip about why Kawhi Leonard is smiling so much by contacting the produce manager at your local H-E-B.
“He played 20 years … I mean, yeah I guess.”
That’s what Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball had to say in this video after learning that Kobe Bryant was the all-time leader in steals for his franchise. You have to hand it to him, it is a little surprising. Even more surprising is that Bryant has 220 more than Magic Johnson at No. 2.
In a video posted to YouTube by Complex on Saturday, rookies tried to answer questions similar to the one Ball pondered over, like what team drafted their head coach, who the NBA all-time leading scorer is, and what day the first game of the season starts on.
A lot of the responses were pretty funny, including the guys getting wrong what year Adam Silver became NBA commissioner. Poor David Stern has already been forgotten about!
Meanwhile, Ball looked the sharpest. He’s going to come in handy when the Lakers play pub trivia.