David Stern has more than a little power, which is especially clear when players really break the rules.
After the unrestrained brawl known as “the Auburn Hills incident,” for example, the fortunes of the Pacers and Pistons franchises and several players hung in the balance. Were there hearings to be had? Was there testimony? Is there a judge or a panel that metes out punishments in such cases? Are there published guidelines?
There is none of that. In that case, and in many other cases, the commissioner essentially has the right to punish players as he sees fit…
…Hunter said a couple of weeks ago that his list of “B” issues runs to six pages of “issues that are very important that we have yet to resolve.”
Asked to name some of the issues on his “B” list Hunter first identified the league’s age limit, and then named just one other: “commissioner discipline.”
We’ve gotten used to swift justice being handed out by the commissioner when players step out of line. While a more democratic process would certainly seem like a good idea in theory, Stern’s first priority is generally damage control, as he is still attempting to get mainstream America to embrace the NBA game the same way they embrace the college game every March.
If swift suspensions aren’t handed down when players run into the stands and start punching people, that goal could become harder to attain. Still, fair is fair, and the argument that Stern has too much power when handing out suspensions has merit to it on an ideological effort. The players may also want the controversial “dress code” revoked — personally, I like seeing players in business clothes when they’re not playing (and it’s often mutually beneficial — how much extra endorsement money do you think Michael Jordan made during his career for suiting up after games), but ultimately the players should get to decide what they want to wear if they’re not playing. And if this lockout agreement blows up because of a hooded sweater impasse, I will actually go insane.