Tuesday, September 20

Warning: David Stern Rant

According to the LA Times, David Stern is the best commissioner in all of professional sports, and while it is difficult to argue a subjective analysis, it is easy to argue the facts the author lays out in Stern's defense.

Helene Elliott points out that - while the ongoing lockout has tarred his legacy - Mr. Stern will leave office as the best leader professional sports has known. To prove it, she quotes Scott Rosner, the associate director of Wharton Sports Business initiative at the University of Pennsylvania:

"To think about where this sport was when he took over in the early '80s, so many teams losing money — the majority of the teams losing money — the Finals were on tape delay in many markets across the country, and David has brought that league to where it is."

Point One - Tape Delay
This is a falsity, and an "associate director of Whatever" should know it. Stern became commissioner of the NBA in 1984 and CBS began broadcasting live coverage of the NBA Finals (and playoffs, for that matter) in 1982. Only a fool would give Stern any credit for that achievement. Is it possible that some markets were still opting to tape-delay the games in 1984, even though CBS was broadcasting them live? Certainly, but to think that Stern's leadership - and not the Lakers/Celtics phenomenon - was the main factor is beyond ludicrous, it's just flat-out idiotic.

Point Two - Profitable Teams
Excuse me, but are we not in the middle of a lockout caused by the fact that nearly all the teams are losing money? How is this any different than the situation Stern inherited 30 years ago?

Stern - and his boosters - cannot have it both ways. If, as he claims, the NBA is bereft of profitable teams, then he needs to take responsibility for that. If, however, he is a great commissioner and his teams are making bundles of money, then why are they trying to bend the players over a park bench?

Just because David Stern had the good fortune to get his job precisely when Larry Bird and Magic Johnson were leading the pre-eminent franchises in the league and months before the greatest professional athlete in American history was set to debut for the Chicago Bulls doesn't mean he's a genius, or the best commissioner in America, or any of that crap.

It just means he was pretty damned lucky.


Paul said...

Thanks for pointing out that he didn't become commish until '84. Even I assumed that he took over earlier, which proves if you repeat a lie enough, eventually everyone will believe it. As you said, luckiest sports exec of all time? You bet. BEST? Not even close.

Paul said...

I'd even go so far as to say NBC (along with Nike and even McDonalds) had a much bigger part in marketing the NBA than Stern did. I have yet to see any definite proof that Stern did anything, other than be in the right place at the right time.

ryan said...

I think Stern's only real claim to genius is the way he has marketed the NBA around the world. But even then, baseball is much more popular in more other countries than the NBA, but the only difference is they don't go on and on about how wonderful they are at doing that.

Ditto what Paul said on the rest, though. Even if you give DS credit for his overseas stuff, he has utterly failed at maintaining the health of the league. Remember, folks, the contract that the agreement are pissed off about now? Yeah, they agreed to it less than five years ago at the behest of David Stern.