David Stern has seen a lot in 30 years as NBA Commissioner. Remember two years before he took over NBA Finals games were recorded then shown after your local news at night. NBA playoff games were tape delayed up through 1986.
Now franchise valuations are way up, the NBA is a billion dollar business and Stern helped market and guide that. He is deservedly going to get a lot of accolades over the next four months.
But it wasn’t all rainbows and puppies — there were some hard times. Stern was on the John Feinstein Show on CBSSports Radio and talked about those dark days and what was the darkest of them. (hat tip and translation courtesy Eye on Basketball):
“Whether it’s Tim Donaghy, whether it’s Magic Johnson being HIV positive, or Ron Artest going into the stands, or Latrell Sprewell deciding it would be a good idea to strangle his coach or Gilbert Arenas bringing a gun into the locker room, I see that as, those crises have to be managed.”
Which one was toughest?
“Each one kept my up in its own way,” Stern said. “But the brawl that happened between the Pistons and the Pacers provided much of the media in the course of that weekend to use the words ‘thugs’ and ‘punks’ with respect to all of our players which to me is freighted with respect to what they’re really saying and brought up visions of the way the media treated us a decade or more earlier.”
It shouldn’t be a surprise that the marketing guru, the guy most concerned about the NBA brand, found that the most troubling times. Pacers players went into the stands to fight Pistons fans. It was a terrible black eye for the league — players fighting fans. As he said, it gave an avenue for those who hate the NBA and their players, whatever their reason, to go on the attack. To paint all the players with a broad brush.
Spreewell and Arenas, those are workplace issues (you can’t bring a gun into your office, Arenas can’t into a locker room). Magic’s HIV ended up with him helping change perceptions about the disease.
But there was no good out of the Malice in the Palace. It was just a mess.
Billy Donovan was given the head coaching job in Oklahoma City to bring their offense into modern times — and it seems to be working, Russell Westbrook said he feels a lot more space in the system.
But if the Thunder are going to contend for a title, they need a top 10 defense as well — and to do that Donovan is going to keep a Scott Brooks move and continue to start Andre Roberson and Steven Adams. Check out the starting lineup for their first preseason game Wednesday.
There also was this report via Anthony Slater in the Oklahoman yesterday about a scrimmage at practice.
Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka and Andre Roberson all started for the White team. Nick Collison joined them, but that was only because Steven Adams sat out with back soreness….
Donovan said the teams weren’t split by accident. That’s how they’ve been divided in practice. So at this point, it seems Roberson is this team’s starting shooting guard and Adams is the team’s starting center.
This is the smart move. Last season the lineup of Westbrook, Roberson, Durant, Ibaka and Adams was +13.4 points per 100 possessions over their opponents. Roberson and Adams are there for defense — neither brings much offensive game to the floor, but when you have Westbrook and Durant and only one ball between them, you don’t need more offensive threats. You’re going to get plenty of points.
If they can just stay healthy, Oklahoma City is a team to be feared.
The Hall of Fame player behind the original iron man streak is with us no more.
Knicks’ legend Harry Gallatin passes away at age 88, the team confirmed Wednesday.
Gallatin led the Knicks of the late 1940s and into the 1950s, when he set a then record playing in 610 consecutive games. Nicknamed “The Horse,” he was a beast on the boards who averaged 15.3 rebounds a game one season and averaged 11.9 boards and 13 points per game over the course of his 10-year career. He’s still fourth all time in total rebounds in Knicks franchise history.
Gallatin was a seven-time All-Star and twice All-NBA selection. After his playing days, he spent many years as the athletic director at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
Our thoughts are with his family and friends.