Having overseen the relocation of six franchises, and two seasons with games lost to lockouts, NBA commissioner David Stern (below) is no stranger to controversy. The latest instance came Thursday with his promise of “substantial sanctions” after Gregg Popovich’s decision to send four players home before the game in Miami — a 105-100 Spurs’ loss — to rest them for tonight against Southwest Division-leading Memphis, which sports the best record in the league at 12-2. While certainly not conclusive, Express-News staff writer Dan McCarney provides a list of some more infamous moments from Stern’s career:
The intent to prevent teams from blatantly tanking games in pursuit of better draft picks was noble. But despite the participation of independent witnesses, multiple outcomes that seemed too good to be true — Patrick Ewing to the slumping Knicks, native Ohioan LeBron James to Cleveland — have only fed into the conspiracy theories that Stern’s office actively manipulates the league.
Horrified when a full-blown brawl spilled into the crowd at a Bulls-Knicks playoff game in the 1990s, Stern instituted a draconian policy whereby any player involved — even those with barely a foot on the court from the bench — during future fracases would be suspended. The measure has since been a factor in multiple playoff series, including Heat-Knicks in 1997 and Spurs-Suns in 2007.
Unveiled in 2005, the NBA’s unprecedented dress code replaced the baggy, blinged-out fashions of the late 1990s and early 2000s with suits and collared shirts. Spurs star Tim Duncan was one of the loudest critics, decrying the unprecedented decision as “a load of crap.” Some even claimed the code was racially motivated. Now, it’s hard to tell much difference between NBA benches and a Milanese catwalk.
Stern’s effort to make basketball work in Sacramento, Calif., where the Kings are reportedly contemplating a move to Virginia, stands in direct contrast to the departure of the former Seattle SuperSonics, who left one of the league’s largest markets for Oklahoma City after 41 seasons. There’s plenty of blame to go around, but Stern’s critics argue that he did little to discourage the move.
How ingrained has this term become since Stern coined it to explain his blocking of a 2011 trade that would have sent Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Lakers? A Google search draws 73.2 million hits — a testament to both Stern’s authority and the outrage his decision drew since the Hornets, for whom Paul played, were owned by the league at the time.
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