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Unclebuck
07-24-2006, 08:59 AM
http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060724/SPORTS08/607240316/1004/SPORTS&template=printart


Stern: Commish or tyrant?


AUBURN HILLS -- David Stern is either out of control or too much in control. It's not good, either way.

He might be the most effective and successful commissioner in all of professional sports, but I am starting to suspect he's gotten drunk on his own power. His need for utter and absolute control is bordering on the maniacal.

It's one thing for the commissioner to have firm control on the business side of the game, but Stern has crossed over and is now lording over the competition side, as well. And that is a real problem.

This notion hit home as I was watching 106 free throws shot in one 40-minute summer league game in Las Vegas. Actually, it first struck me, like a hammer, during the NBA Finals.

To me, the 2006 NBA Finals were contaminated by the league. How could anybody watch those games and think otherwise? The referees directly impacted the results of at least three of those games. The star treatment of Dwyane Wade was sickening.

Stern made it clear that the league needs superstars to sell and he got tired of waiting for them to ascend on their own. So, what did he do? He decided to tweak the rules and browbeat his officials.

Wade and LeBron James are brilliant players with big personalities who would have become superstars without the league's help. But after two years of seeing defensive-oriented teams like the Pistons and Spurs in the Finals, Stern couldn't wait any longer.

If the Wade rules weren't enough to warrant an asterisk on the 2006 Finals, then the after-the-fact suspension of Mavericks Jerry Stackhouse should be. To make a postgame ruling as drastic as that, on a play that was governed correctly by the game officials without any real debate or controversy on the court, is incomprehensible.

What kind of precedent did that set? Is the league going to analyze film from every game and make after-the-fact judgments to fit whatever storyline Stern is trumpeting? Who is going to stop them?

There are no checks and balances on this. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban complains and he gets slapped with a six-figure fine. Now imagine a system where a commissioner, who is hired and put into office by the owners, has the power to fine the owners he serves.

That's how smart Stern is. He has manipulated the system to a point where he has more power than those who hired him.

So Stern says the league needs more offense, and demands that league referees change the way they call games. Which brings me back to the summer league game in Vegas. There were 96 fouls called in one 40-minute game. There were close to 60 calls on average throughout the two weeks, Granted, the 96-foul game was officiated by two NBDL refs and one young NBA ref. But on every timeout, the officials would huddle with two veteran refs who were there to monitor and mentor the young guys. And at almost every timeout, those young refs were told they were doing a great job.

They sucked the absolute life and flow out of the game -- which is what Stern's changes were designed to facilitate.

If that's the mind-set of the summer instructional league, you can only imagine what's in store for next season.

The public face of the NBA might be shiny and bright with its new constellation of stars, its sold-out arenas and rising television ratings, but the game is a mess.

The veteran officials have complained and Stern has told them, in so many words, "If you don't like it, you can go ref some other league."

Coaches have complained bitterly about the changes, and been told, "If you don't like it, you can coach in another league."

The players have complained bitterly and been told, "If you don't like it, try making as much money in some other league."

This is the arrogance with which Stern is operating.

The owners are the only ones who could band together and subdue the monster, but as long as the monster keeps raising their profit line, they will feed the beast.

What of the media, you say? Isn't it the media's job to serve as a check and balance? Yep, but even a large portion of the media is under Stern's control.

ESPN, TNT and ABC all have lucrative contracts with the NBA and thus serve the master. Most radio networks that carry NBA games are bought and paid for by NBA teams. The one unfiltered media outlet left is us -- the print media. And Stern is doing all he can to push us out of the way. Since the proliferation of cable and the Internet, we have been the low man on the media totem pole. Our access to players has shrunk continuously over the years. With so many cameras in the locker rooms now, especially during the playoffs, postgame access is basically limited to the one or two players and a coach.

Meanwhile, networks get one-on-one interviews on the court, have microphones in huddles during timeouts, etc.

There is a growing sentiment among players, coaches and officials that Stern's power has run amok. There is concern that, more than manipulating the business and image of the league, he is manipulating the game.

Sports are real human drama. That's what makes them entertaining. It's not a reality show created for television. It's not "Survivor" or "American Idol".

You cannot create heroes and manipulate storylines and expect to be taken seriously.

There is a concern that if left unchecked, the NBA will eventually have about as much integrity as the XFL or the WWE.

Is that what you really want?

Chauncey
07-24-2006, 09:04 AM
Wahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh wahhhhhhhhhhhh

FrenchConnection
07-24-2006, 09:08 AM
You can call sour grapes by a Detriot writer, but do we really want games decided by free throws? I know that I don't.

bulletproof
07-24-2006, 09:24 AM
To me, the 2006 NBA Finals were contaminated by the league. How could anybody watch those games and think otherwise? The referees directly impacted the results of at least three of those games. The star treatment of Dwyane Wade was sickening.

Stern made it clear that the league needs superstars to sell and he got tired of waiting for them to ascend on their own. So, what did he do? He decided to tweak the rules and browbeat his officials.
This goes back to the debate we had recently about whether the NBA is fixed or not. As I said then, I don't think it is overtly "fixed." But I do believe the league can influence officiating to stack the deck in favor of certain teams and players so they get the results (read: ratings) they desire.



The public face of the NBA might be shiny and bright with its new constellation of stars, its sold-out arenas and rising television ratings, but the game is a mess.
And yes, it always comes back to the ratings (read: ad revenue/money).

Vicious Tyrant
07-24-2006, 09:34 AM
Well, he might be a tyrant but the question is: is he vicious?

Anxiety
07-24-2006, 09:48 AM
Well, he might be a tyrant but the question is: is he vicious?

Which tyrant isn't? ;)

Young
07-24-2006, 10:47 AM
Well I don't like Stern, I think he is a jackass.

- The rule changes, I like how hopefully it will continue to speed up the game, I don't like how he didn't let it happen naturally.
- The refs gave Wade this special star treatment in the Finals and I believe that is how Stern wanted it.

Stern is the best commishioner in all of sports, but look at his competition, there isn't much.

Stern is looking for the quick fix to increase league sales and $ coming home with him, however this might hurt the NBA in the long run. I don't know if he is out of control, but he defiantly is to much in control, that's for sure.

arenn
07-24-2006, 11:06 AM
Why is Stern the best commissioner? He's basically presided over the decline of NBA basketball from being one of the big three pro leagues to what is more and more becoming a niche attraction for die hard fans. Contrast this with the NFL, which has grown and grown in general popularity and is now truly "America's passtime" and it is hard to see why you'd say Stern's doing the best job.

Young
07-24-2006, 12:40 PM
Why is Stern the best commissioner? He's basically presided over the decline of NBA basketball from being one of the big three pro leagues to what is more and more becoming a niche attraction for die hard fans. Contrast this with the NFL, which has grown and grown in general popularity and is now truly "America's passtime" and it is hard to see why you'd say Stern's doing the best job.

Ok of the 3 current pro sports commishioners, why don't you tell me why Stern is not as good as them? What have they done?

Can you blame Stern for the decline in basketball popularity? No, because players are not as good as they were in the 80s, they play a different style that a lot of people don't like.

As much as I don't like Stern, a lot of the NBA's decline in popularity is not his fault. And while the NBA is not as popular in the US now as it was in the 80s it is still pretty big overseas I believe.

Brian
07-24-2006, 12:44 PM
Stern is the best commish of any of the major sports.He is extremely smart.

SycamoreKen
07-24-2006, 12:55 PM
Ok of the 3 current pro sports commishioners, why don't you tell me why Stern is not as good as them? What have they done?

Can you blame Stern for the decline in basketball popularity? No, because players are not as good as they were in the 80s, they play a different style that a lot of people don't like.

As much as I don't like Stern, a lot of the NBA's decline in popularity is not his fault. And while the NBA is not as popular in the US now as it was in the 80s it is still pretty big overseas I believe.

I would argue that NASCAR has surpassed both baseball and the NBA on the pro sports scene in the US. That is a big reason for the big push to gain ground overseas, to make up for the loss at home.

As for the "massaging" of the rules, it happened first in the Mavs series against the Spurs where Dirk went to the line almost as much as Wade did against Dallas. I guess that is just part of the NBA game, always has been always will be. That is why the NBA will never be as big as the NFL. NBA officials may be better overall, but as long as they call the game different for different players, the league will never look as legit as the NFL where calls are made evenly.

Naptown_Seth
07-24-2006, 01:06 PM
You can call sour grapes by a Detriot writer, but do we really want games decided by free throws? I know that I don't.
I have no problem with it. Just as long as the FTs were LEGIT earned.

I think this is just crying by a DET writer looking at the Pistons 2 main competitors. But that doesn't mean he's totally wrong either.


Remember the Wade "over and back" non-call. Over at RATS a Heat poster defended this as per the rules, blah blah blah. But of course it wasn't. The proof? Oh, just me watching ESPN Classic and seeing Levingston (Bulls) do the EXACT same thing (leap from front court, catch inbounds in air, land in backcourt) and get whistle for a back court violation during an NBA Finals game.


So that stuff does bother me. Seeing Wade shoot FTs where he got touched insanely less than AJ did when he went past Kidd late in game 6 (and got no call) also bugs me.

Wade is quick enough that he is going to draw fouls, and some of those will be late in games. But there are other quick guys out there and some can avoid fouling him at times...it was just that the refs kept "accidentally" missing this.

I don't buy the conspiracy theory, but I don't think that there isn't a problem of some sort.



Stern is the best commish of any of the major sports.He is extremely smart.
You say this because the NFL gets a lot better ratings or because the NBA has by far the strongest players union of the big 3?

v_d_g
07-24-2006, 01:11 PM
How ironic, a Detroit writer *****ing about favoritism: guess it was all good when the Pistons were beating people to death (with their famed defense) and not getting called for it.


On the other hand, STERN is a WORM. A BIGTIME PRICK. And a ***, to boot.

And, as fate will have it, he's getting on in years.

Age and, with it, infirmity will wipe that look of superiority off his face.

And put a smile on mine.

Die *****

Kstat
07-24-2006, 01:17 PM
McCosky is such a whiny little girl.

Hicks
07-24-2006, 01:18 PM
Whether or not some people want to admit it, I think Chris McCosky is more right than wrong on this.

Funny how the best defense I've seen against him is "waaah" and "whiney little girl". That's real substance.

Robertmto
07-24-2006, 01:21 PM
The star teatments of Wade and LeBron in the playoffs were beyond sickening. They were blatant subjects of favortism.

arenn
07-24-2006, 01:25 PM
Tagliabue became NFL commissioner in 1989. He's accomplished a great deal, including making the NFL the undisputed #1 professional sports league in America, which it wasn't at the time. The NFL has strong revenue sharing, a hard salary cap, and non-guaranteed contracts, all of which may be not so great for players, but have generated parity and a lot of close seasons. (One can argue we've gone too far in that direction). The NFL has largely been able to maintain itself as a league of clean-cut superstars, with some notable exceptions. There are certainly some bad apples in there (egotists and criminals), but people like Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison are the rule. Football has also maintained itself as a league where fundamental football skills still rule the day. Team discipline is also fairly strong and players actually respect their coaches. While there have been notable officiating mistakes (baseball is by far the best officiated sport), there are almost never complaints of favoritism, and when the leauge wants to change the style of play, it actually changes the rules, not the officiating style.

In the NBA 1989, the Lakers-Celtics dynasties had just ended, and the Jordan years were about to begin. The NBA went some having stars like Bird, Magic, and Jordan to today's group of punks. Nobody forced the NBA to start going with all high school players and a game where physical skills often play a greater role than basketball fundamentals. The NBA deliberately cultivated the image it has today, and Stern is the main responsible party. The NBA is the worst officiated sport, and teams constantly moan about conspiracy theories. It's commonly acknowledged that stars play by a different set of rules and the style of officiating is driven by the league office, not the rule book.

Kstat
07-24-2006, 01:29 PM
How ironic, a Detroit writer *****ing about favoritism: guess it was all good when the Pistons were beating people to death (with their famed defense) and not getting called for it.


On the other hand, STERN is a WORM. A BIGTIME PRICK. And a ***, to boot.

And, as fate will have it, he's getting on in years.

Age and, with it, infirmity will wipe that look of superiority off his face.

And put a smile on mine.

Die *****

Die *****?

You need help.

SycamoreKen
07-24-2006, 01:53 PM
(baseball is by far the best officiated sport

Only because of, outside of balls and strikes which is the hardest and most subjective call in all sports, it is the easiest to officiate. I have problems with baseball in that on the bases umpires make as many assumtion calls as NBA refs do. I was watching a game last night when the ump called a guy out at second because the ball beat him there by a mile but he actually got to the base first. He was sheilded and just assumed the guy was out. Instant replay showed 4 times that he was clearly safe, but it was barely commented on. In a tie game in the 8th a runner on second with no outs means a lot. The double play where the second baseman only has to be within a foot of the bag is another favorite.

Horseman872
07-24-2006, 01:56 PM
I would argue that NASCAR has surpassed both baseball and the NBA on the pro sports scene in the US. That is a big reason for the big push to gain ground overseas, to make up for the loss at home.

As for the "massaging" of the rules, it happened first in the Mavs series against the Spurs where Dirk went to the line almost as much as Wade did against Dallas. I guess that is just part of the NBA game, always has been always will be. That is why the NBA will never be as big as the NFL. NBA officials may be better overall, but as long as they call the game different for different players, the league will never look as legit as the NFL where calls are made evenly.

Um, the freethrow discrepancy throughout the Mavs-Spurs series was pretty much even. only about 5 off. It was heavily swung in the favor of Miami in the Heat Series, and Shaq didn't take half as many as Wade. Research it yourself, I think you'll find the discrepancy to be somewhere in the 60s or more even. Also, the two games the free throw discrepancy was within 5, the Mavs won.

clemdogg
07-24-2006, 02:23 PM
Yea I would argue that Tagliabue has become the best commissioner in sports. Consider how huge the NFL Draft has become, just that event in itself was advertised as a season opener almost, althought I'm not sure what kind of ratings it got. But I definitely think the new all-american sport, as far as viewership and fan bases, is the NFL, and I don't think its any coincidence that its popularity has skyrocketed under Tagliabue's rule. The game hasn't really changed all that much, at least not in the rules (besides challenges). I also don't think its any coincidence that the NBA has declined under Stern's rule. And the NBA and its rules have changed dramatically.

I don't think its hard for any Indiana fan to assume Stern is a tyrant. I know that during the Colts' playoff losses to New England recently and Pittsburgh in the AFC title game in '95, the last thing I ever really thought was conspiracy...poor officiating, maybe, but never conspiracy. But just consider all of the Pacers' losses to the Knicks, etc, during the '90's. I remember the Antonio Davis phanton foul on Larry Johnson's 4 point play during the lockout year when they beat us. And I remember watching ESPN, and on the bottom line it said, "Is there a conspiracy against the Pacers?" but I never saw the segment. And that was in '99, which was after a bunch of other games and series which the Pacers were screwed out of. I know that Stern is obviously all about money, like everyone, but he seems to make it more obvious somehow. I know that New York is a larger market, so I know that Stern and the NBA will make more money with New York in the finals than it would a smaller market team like Indiana. I am not saying there has or was or still is a conspiracy against any certain team, but I wouldn't be surprised if I found out that Stern was, in some way or another, influencing reffing before games.

Eindar
07-24-2006, 04:25 PM
You can call sour grapes by a Detriot writer, but do we really want games decided by free throws? I know that I don't.

I want the game called fairly. If someone gets fouled with 0.1 secs left in the 4th quarter, that's not the ref's fault, that's the fault of the idiot who fouled someone on the last play of the game. The NBA is the ONLY sport that holds to this idiotic thought.

Horseman872
07-24-2006, 04:59 PM
I want the game called fairly. If someone gets fouled with 0.1 secs left in the 4th quarter, that's not the ref's fault, that's the fault of the idiot who fouled someone on the last play of the game. The NBA is the ONLY sport that holds to this idiotic thought.

I don't mind the foul call if its consistent with the way the game is called. The NBA finals was not officiated consistently.

ChicagoJ
07-24-2006, 05:08 PM
Did Chuck Daly ghost-write this article?

This has always been the Detroit way - commit so many fouls that the "skill" difference is lost.

And that's not a bad short-term strategy.

The problem was that the league decided to glorify this blatant ignoring of the rulebook in the early-1990s and spawned 15 years of progressively unwatchable basketball.

All this so-called "New NBA" (what a joke) is really just a return to the roots of basketball. In which a foul is a foul.

Superstar players like Wade and LBJ are also savvy enough to realize that if they are aggressive they'll get to the line. I don't like "superstar treatment" but goodness gracious they were getting fouled.
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But just consider all of the Pacers' losses to the Knicks, etc, during the '90's. I remember the Antonio Davis phanton foul on Larry Johnson's 4 point play during the lockout year when they beat us.

That was a foul. Perhaps it shouldn't have been continuation, but Antonio Davis clearly fouled LJ when it wasn't even necessary.

There's plenty of blame to go around on that call, but it starts and stops with AD putting the official in a position to make the questionable call in the first place.

:twocents: