Raja Bell says David Stern is the impediment to a deal

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Raja Bell is frustrated. Like the rest of us. Frustrated that we are talking about a “percentage of basketball related income” and games missed rather than the Chicago Bulls or New York Knicks.

And he’s frustrated with David Stern. Really, he’s frustrated with the owners and the entire NBA family for not making a deal that ends this lockout, but Stern is the face of it.

On The Dan LeBatard Show with Stugotz on 790 the Ticket in Miami (via Sports Radio Interviews), Bell threw Stern under the bus. LeBatard asked Bell about what Bryant Gumbel had said, and Bell sounded like a lot of players in saying there was some truth in there, lost in the racial aspects of the comment.

“Some of what (Gumbel) says in that interview or on his show I think is accurate. I don’t mean the racial part of what he said. I mean [NBA] commissioner Stern in my personal opinion…I feel like he’s a bit in the way of us making progress here. I feel like he might be in his last few years as commissioner and he is looking to make his legacy on what kind of deal he get can get these owners this time around. I feel strongly about that. I feel like he has been one of the biggest problems in this whole lockout. It’s unfortunate we have not been able to get past that, but as far the racial part of what he said; I don’t necessarily touch on that. I don’t know what David Stern’s motives are. I don’t know how he views us as players. I do think he rules the NBA with an ‘iron fist,’ and it is his way or the highway….

“I am mad at the NBA machine right now because I think there is a deal to be made. I don’t mean to make it sound like I am just mad at David Stern. I am mad at all of us because I think we all play a hand in not getting a deal done. I think if it wasn’t such a personal thing in my mind. I feel like it is more personal than business at times with him [David Stern] and that’s just…I can’t help, but feel that way. I could be wrong.”

Bell was also asked what he would say to fans who say just take the owners 50/50 offer (which is not really 50/50 as the owners get a to take a chunk off the top then want to split up the rest 50/50).

I do understand a fans perspective on that, but at the end of the day like let’s use Shell Oil as a corporation. Shell Oil – whoever runs that company – makes billions and billions of dollars right, but without the oil they make nothing. The oil is the product they are selling and the owners are selling us as the product and without that product there is nothing. You understand where we are coming from when we say 50-50 [split of revenue] isn’t exactly 50-50, when you take your operating costs off the top?”

You don’t have to agree with Bell, but know that is where the players are coming from. What Bell said here a lot of players are saying on and off the record.

Add Barkley to list of people slamming Bryant Gumbel

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Bryant Gumbel did what he set out to do — he got people talking about labor relations in the NBA. People are talking about David Stern and how the owners treat the players.

Although, many people are just focusing on Gumbel’s “plantation overseer” comment more than the substance of his thoughts. (Henry Abbott did a great breakdown at TrueHoop.) And with that has come backlash on Gumbel.

That includes Charles Barkley, speaking on the Dan Patrick Show (via CSNChicago.com).

For those who would like to read the comments and not listen to Barkley’s voice, here you go:

“I thought (Gumbel’s comments) were stupid. First of all it’s disrespectful to black people that went through slavery while guys are averaging five million dollars a year, that’s just disrespectful. When David Stern took over, I went and did my research because I knew people would make a big deal out of it, when Davis Stern took over the NBA in 1984 which was my first year the average salary was 315,000 dollars. That was the average salary. The average salary now is 5.15 million dollars. When has he been holding people back from making money? Secondly David Stern works for the owners and his job is to make sure the owners have a fair deal. I like Bryant and I like that show a lot but the commissioner works for the owners. He’s just trying to get a fair deal for the owners. It’s disrespectful to black people. I don’t think slaves are making 5.1 million dollars a year.”

Clearly, NBA players are not slaves (they can leave their jobs, for one). That said, more than one NBA player has used similar imagery when speaking to me off the record about the lockout — guys see themselves as working for rich guys and now those owners are trying to take more than their fair share. Yes, the financial sums are pretty crazy, but when people feel a deal is unfair they won’t support it. That is a lot of what has gone on here.

Deputy Commissioner Silver calls Gumbel’s comment “outrageous”

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David Stern has declined to comment on HBO’s Bryant Gumbel comparing him to a “plantation overseer.” Probably wise to take the high road there.

But NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver could not totally dodge the question during his remarks to the media after the Board of Governor’s meeting Thursday. He wouldn’t speak for Stern, but he did throw in a personal comment.