The NBA's Biggest Problem


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.

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.

Always the center of attention. Stern must have required a ton of hugs as a child

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.

A familiar look on the NBA Commissioner..."Duh"

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.

When you think of the NBA and Basketball, this is what David Stern wants you to think of

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?



  1. I’m sorry, but how in the world has Stern exacerbated the problems leading to this lockout?

    22 of the league’s 30 teams lost money this year. What could he have done to stop that that the NBA Players Association wouldn’t be able to block under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement that just expired? He can’t just lower the salary cap to make teams in better shape financially, or reduce contracts, or stop teams from hoarding superstars like Miami did. The NBAPA (A UNION) wouldn’t allow it.

    Blame the owners and Players Union for reaching a deal that benefited the players way too much. It gave them the room to pick where they played, and gave owners enough money to play with to throw at guys like Hedo Turkoglu and Joe Johnson, who deserve half of what they’re making at most.

    I’m not a fan of the guy either, but this isn’t the same situation as the NFL where it’s a bunch of wealthy men deciding how to split $9 billion. He’s taking a decent approach to a sticky situation.

    Also, you mentioned that Stern likes to dish out fines and be a general snob about people that disagree with him. However, there have been plenty of incidents where Goodell has fined people for criticizing officials, and not agreeing with his league, too. He’s also fined players for wearing socks and gloves that don’t match the rest of the team. Your bias against Stern has made you forget this.

    Furthermore, how is it Stern’s fault that LeBron James is the poster boy for the NBA? And, better yet, who cares what type of person he is? Wilt Chamberlain slept with 20,000 women and was the face of the league at one point. Criticize him. Kobe Bryant was the face of the league at one point and was narcissistic enough to cheat on his wife on that fateful evening in Boulder, CO. Criticize him. Or hide your biases better. Your choice.

    Also, Derek Jeter is also quite the womanizer himself. And Sidney Crosby has been deemed a dirty player for his use of the “slew foot,” a maneuver in which a player sweeps out the legs of an opposing player to knock them down. Neither of them sound all too classy. But you like them, so they’re regular Southern Gentlemen to you.

  2. Thanks for Ranting on this topic. Although I do agree with some of your points, i do still strongly disagree with your assessment of Stern.

    But just like any corporation or any business, if issues arise on the Executives watch, blame tends to fall on the Executive.

    I do agree that the NBAPA and Owners shoulder a big brunt of the blame and I did not shy away from pointing that out, but that point alone does not shield Stern from any of the blame. But one fact that cannot be ignored or argued is this is the 2nd Lockout in a 12 year period. So how exactly is Stern not held accountable if he’s Captaining the Ship?

    For the record I never stated I liked any of the aforementioned players I listed as “Poster Boys”. All have their flaws. But I don’t think you can argue at all that any of those players play the game the right way and handle things more often than not in a professional manner. I cannot speak on the Crosby comment because I don’t follow hockey closely enough to debate that. But you do make an interesting comment saying I sort of ignore some of those players’ flaws because “I like them”. But frankly, your criticism of Jeter is a matter of personal opinion alone. I don’t think it’s fair to say Jeter “womanizes” people just to prove a point when there is no fact to support that claim. Sure he has dated a lot of women, but don’t all men? Doesn’t make him a womanizer.

    It’s off how Jeter is called a “womanizer” in a comment that mentions Wilt Chamberlain.

    Also, you made a point about Kobe Bryant being the poster boy with his rape charges. Again, who was running the league during this?

    And there is a thin line between Biases and Opinion. If you’re asking me who I would prefer my child looking up to than I’m going to hope it’s not a Lebron James. Regardless of how he is off the court the way he plays the game and the professionalism on the court scream “petulant child”. We’ve seen Lebrons actions the past few seasons grow more and more irritating. Nobody is denying his amazing talent, just the way he handles himself. And that’s not my fault for pointing out the obvious, nor is it a bias. His actions have just stuck in my head. My fault or Lebrons?

    I also didn’t say this was the same situation as the NFL, I understand the differences. I was merely making a point that TWO lockouts in 12 years is a bit unsettling. Trying to decipher the mis-steps is just an NBA fan trying to find reasoning to an unacceptable outcome.

    Whatever deal that the Owners and Players signed off on that allowed such exuberant contracts HAD to be signed off by the league (Davide Stern). So you can’t make a point about bad contracts and point blame at the NBAPA and Owner’s without mentioning Stern in the same breathe.

    So to answer your initial question, I do NOT fully blame Stern but I do think he has failed to alleviate the issues of the NBA. Sure it’s not his fight alone but he certainly snaps back fiercely when any of his actions or rules are questioned. To clarify, The NFL DOES penalize it’s players when they do question rules or argue calls, but Stern is the only one who has a personal jab in his fines.

    In Stern’s latest fine against Stan Van Gundy, he said:

    “I see somebody whose team isn’t performing, whose star player is suspended, who seems to be fraying,” Stern said of Van Gundy.
    When asked if he’s worried about any more comments from Van Gundy, Stern said he doesn’t expect Van Gundy to speak that way again.

    “I would venture a guess that we’re not going to be hearing from him for the rest of the season,” Stern said. “I think when he stops and reads what he said, realizes what he did, he will say no more. … I have a feeling some modicum of self-restraint will cause Stan, and the team for which he works, to rein in his aberrant behavior.”

    You’re going to tell me that Goodell does this too? I mean Stern takes little pot shots at the organization and Van Gundy.

    All Goodell does is cut to the chase “this player is fined for actions”, end of story. Stern likes to say “this player is a jerk, on a losing time…i win”

    Call my article bias. But you cannot deny the points I made.

    Regardless if you agree with any of it or not I am certainly happy you took the time to Rant with me on this. You seem to really know your NBA stuff. Hope you sign up and Rant with me and the other Ranterz again soon!!

    Thanks again