By Steve Silverman
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David Stern may be an effective commissioner of the NBA, but he sure knows how to act like a spoiled brat when he’s put on the spot.
Stern’s recent appearance on Jim Rome’s radio show made headlines because the commissioner didn’t like the fact that Rome had the nerve to ask him about the draft lottery. Under the category of “conspiracy theory,” Rome asked Stern if the fix was in when the New Orleans Hornets won the No. 1 pick.
The idea that the league wanted to reward Tom Benson for buying the troubled franchise by giving them the opportunity to draft Kentucky’s Anthony Davis was the thrust of Rome’s question. Davis may be the best rookie to come into the league since Kevin Durant was drafted in 2007. There have also been some comparisons to LeBron James, but that seems a bit much.
Stern did not respond well to the question. He poured gasoline on the fire by asking if Rome was still beating his wife.
Stern was not insinuating that Rome has a domestic-violence problem. However, he was pulling a little snit fit when that question came out of his mouth. Stern did not think Rome had the right to ask him directly about something that talk-show hosts and sportswriters throughout the country were speculating about on a regular basis.
Stern said to Rome that he was going for the cheap thrill and that he had built his career on that type of behavior.
That kind of response is completely uncalled for. All Stern would have had to do is to answer the question directly and emphatically, and it would have put an end to that part of the interview. Instead, Stern stomped his feet and bristled like an angry adolescent.
That’s very un-commissioner-like and undignified behavior. Roger Goodell has been walking around like Sheriff Buford Pusser in “Walking Tall” recently by handing out substantial penalties to the New Orleans Saints for the Bountygate scandal. Yet he doesn’t raise his voice and get into spitting matches with Saints coaches or players. He just makes his decisions and hands out his penalties and moves on to the next issue.
That’s what Stern needs to do. He shouldn’t get involved in throwing fits and getting into arguments with talk-show hosts.
The question by Rome was warranted, and the “lottery fix” issue has been a key topic for NBA observers ever since the New York Knicks won the right to draft Patrick Ewing in 1985 with the No. 1 pick. The old story was that the league wanted the sluggish Knicks to become a contender again so they had placed the envelope that contained their logo in dry ice. That cold envelope was obvious and it was easy for the Knicks to get that No. 1 selection.
If that’s not enough, the Tim Donaghy scandal means that the league should be as upfront and open as much as possible. When a referee goes to prison for betting on games, there are questions to be answered.
Stern should be above it all. He should not get down in the mud and start wrestling with a journalist who is doing his job. He should answer the question and simply move on. The NBA has certainly thrived under Stern’s leadership and when he leaves, deputy commissioner Adam Silver will have huge shoes to fill.
But Silver would be well-advised not to mimic Stern’s smug and peevish demeanor when he has tough questions to answer. It’s not becoming of a man in his position.
Do you agree that David Stern acted like a spoiled brat when he was asked the question? Sound off with your thoughts and comments in the section below…