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The NBA’s Biggest Problem

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So it looks as though the NBA is headed to yet another lockout. Yes, another labor lockout (last one was during the 98-99 season) which further proves that the NBA’s upward climb into the Top of the Sports World is all but a failed journey now.

Truth is, the NBA will continue to go down this road because it fails to address it’s main issue; David Stern.

Most of you that read this blog on a consistent basis understand I have a slight disdain for the current NBA Commissioner. But if you look a little deeper into the current labor issue you will see that Stern has actually lent more to the actual issue at hand in the NBA rather than any remedy.

So how can a Commissioner have so much effect on these outcomes? Most people will attest that Stern is the most powerful commissioner in all of sports. No matter the accuracy of such statement it is a statement that is unsettling to say the least.

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The fact is, David Stern has been a “different” Commissioner than any other. Roger Goodell of the NFL strikes many as a no-bullshit, cut to the chase, act swift type of man. For the most part (regardless of your stance on the NFL Lockout) Goodell has cleaned up a lot of the junk in the league. He is a great leader and spokesperson for the NFL. When you see Goodell you tend to want to take him very seriously.

Say what you will about Bud Selig of the MLB. Sure the guy has made some idiotic moves in his career. Sure he may have turned a blind eye during the Steroids Era which really tarnished baseball. But he has recovered fairly well from each obstacle laid in front of him. He also has done so in the backdrop, not putting his mug in the spotlight.

Selig also has helped baseball slowly ascend to the good graces of the sports world again.

But David Stern is different. He takes every chance to put his mug on television. In many instances Stern exuded arrogance, ignorance and an ego that has not at all benefited the NBA.

Many Stern-Supporters will point to his globalization of the NBA. His ability to spread the NBA product internationally. But how much of that was really David Stern?

In comparison, Roger Goodell has done so with the NFL. Each of the past few seasons he has had one Regular Season game over in Europe. Before that was the NFL Europe League which had a nice run for a few years. Goodell however proved that his product was strong enough to spread and sustain the international growth.

Stern’s task of globalizing was powered by the Jordan Era in the NBA. So how much of it was truly Stern’s doing. And while Stern can take credit for this, how much would have been accomplished without the flux of international stars that came into the League?

So according to Stern-Supporters David Stern globalized the NBA? Not Michael Jordan mania? Not Nowitzki? Not Yao Ming? Vlade Divac? Drazen Petrovic?

Transversely Goodell did it without the heavy star power doing his work for him. The Miami Dolphins hosted the New York Giants at Wembley Stadium in London, England on October 28, 2007. At the time the Dolphins were in the middle of a 1-15 season and were without a win at the time.

On October 2, 2005, the Arizona Cardinals defeated the San Francisco 49ers by a score of 31–14 at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. The San Diego Chargers and New Orleans Saints played at Wembley Stadium on October 26, 2008. The New England Patriots defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 35–7 in the 2009 edition in front of 84,254 in attendance

On October 31, 2010, the San Francisco 49ers (as the home team) and the Denver Broncos played. The game was again played at London’s Wembley Stadium. The San Francisco 49ers won by a score of 24 to 16. No major star power needed. No Peyton Manning, Ray Lewis, Adrian Peterson. Instead, the NFL put it’s product (football) front and center. No matter the team on the field, the NFL was confident the product of Football would sell and it did.

Whereas Stern rode the Yao Ming, Michael Jordan and USA Olympic wave to his personal glory.

Stern has also allowed a majority of his NBA teams to fall into financial hell. Letting proud, long standing organizations like the Seattle Supersonics go defunct to force a move to Oklahoma City. No assisting a long standing, devoted organization with a deep history. Just save your ass and make money Stern.

He upset an entire city and league when he basically screwed Seattle. Although most of the blame could fall on the ownership let me put this into perspective.  Currently we are hearing about the Dodgers/Frank McCourt situation. Although the team is in financial shambles and bankrupt the MLB is helping to finance a recovery.

In fact Selig implemented profit sharing for the smaller market teams. Although it hasn’t been utilized correctly in some eyes, it still keeps financially tight teams making income. Could Stern have done this with the Supersonics? The Sacramento Kings? Of course. Did he? No.

Stern will do anything to puff his chest and show off his iron fist in the public eye. Never one to shy from accepting praise he is often unheard of when it comes to answering criticism. He even acts like an immature tantrum-throwing adolescent when league coaches and players question things about the league itself. Constant fines for anyone who doesn’t believe in the almighty Stern or has an issue with the leagues organization. Stern will make a snotty reply and slap a fine.

Now many may also argue it’s the ridiculous earnings of players in the league. Look at some of these player contracts in the NBA today.

JOSH CHILDRESS ( 5 yrs -$34 million) Buried on the bench in Phoenix
TRAVIS OUTLAW ( 4 yrs, $28 million)  Buried on the bench in New Jersey
GILBERT ARENAS ( 3 years, $62 million) Who cares where he is?! He sucks!

This illustrates the free-spending, outlandish contracts given out in the NBA. The NBA also is one of the few leagues that is so financially strangled that trading is effected. You have to match up salaries in order to make any trade in the NBA work. More to fit the Cap Space or illustration of a league in financial disaster?

Each league does it’s best to make sure their respective “Poster Boys” are promoted correctly and truly embody what that league is about.

Peyton Manning (NFL) – Hard Worker, Professional, Classy, Winner
Sidney Crosby (NHL) – Hard Worker, Professional, Classy, Winner
Derek Jeter/Albert Pujols (MLB) – Hard Worker, Professional, Classy, Winner

You want to know who the NBA has put front and center? Lebron James.

That’s right, the arrogant, off putting, self centered, classless Lebron James. That’s right Stern, this guy is who you want young fans in the NBA emulating and associating with your league.

A man that whines like a baby, acts like a jack-ass and gives up on his own team when things don’t go his way. And forget the class that generally follows an NFL game (team handshakes), Lebron has FAILED to do that in each of his Playoff exits….That’s Class

So Stern wants people to think of the NBA and think Lebron James. Basically, ignore the man’s character and look at his stats. And we wonder why the NBA is in shambles.

When you have a “me first” personality as the poster of your league you should never wonder why NBA basketball is filled with “me first” guys.

And forget about fixing this. Stern was so happy to see an aligning of the stars in Miami this past summer. He had $ signs in his eyes. But he opened the flood gates. Now teams are looking to do just that. So your 32 team league is heading towards being a league with 8 good teams filled with superstars and 24 teams there for decoration. You’ve turned it into a joke and all to sell some jerseys and capitalize on some short lived hype.

So when it comes down to really nailing down the true issues of the current NBA Lockout who and what is there to blame?

There are truly two sides to every story and I am more than confident the Players Association bares the brunt of a ton of blame.

But if anyone other than David Stern was running the shop what would be different?

Regardless I think it’s time for a change. Two lockouts within 11 years is ridiculous and would cost any other person their job.

When is David Stern held accountable?

 

Anthony DiMoro is the creator of Sports Rants and the CEO of Elite Rank Media. He is a former Contributor for Forbes and the Huffington Post where he covered sports, social media, and SEO. Anthony formerly hosted the 'Forbes SportsMoney Podcast'.

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