Around the league we are just starting to see the tributes to David Stern come in, when he is in town teams are publicly honoring the man who has been the NBA Commissioner for 30 years. The New Orleans Pelicans gave him a framed jersey this week, opening night the Sacramento Kings gave him a key to the city.
On Feb. 1 Stern will step down (although he will stay on in kind of a consultant role). The tributes will pick up steam as that date nears — there are a lot of owners indebted to him because of how much money he made the as their franchise valuations have skyrocketed over his term in the big chair.
But don’t expect a halftime tribute from the Lakers.
Not that Buss family are not Stern supporters who benefitted greatly from his time in power, they have. But it all comes back to one thing: Vetoing the Chris Paul trade to the Lakers. Remember in 2011 right after the lockout ended the Lakers, Rockets and then Hornets had a three team deal where CP3 ended up a Laker and Pau Gasol a Rocket. Stern nixed it.
Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak summed up the feelings of Lakers fans well at a recent season ticket holder event, as reported by Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times.
“He’s done so much for this [league with] his vision,” Kupchak said. “. . . We’ll miss him, with the exception of one moment.”
Kupchak was referring to Stern’s scuttling of the Lakers’ trade for Chris Paul in December 2011, at a time when the New Orleans Hornets (now the Pelicans) were without an owner and being operated by the league.
“Have you forgiven him for that one moment?” asked Lakers broadcaster Stu Lantz, moderating the event.
“No I haven’t,” Kupchak answered.
Neither have Lakers fans, especially as they watch their team struggle through rebuilding while the Clippers are discussed among the league’s elite.
I can hear your arguments already — David Stern did what was best for New Orleans (which the league owned at the time) and things worked out better for them. Go ahead and say Stern made the right move if you want.
It’s moot — that’s never how it will be seen from the Lakers side of things.
If they brought Stern out and presented him a Lakers jersey during a game it would rain boos and beer cups down on the court.