David Stern spoke at length to the media on hand for what will be his last NBA Finals as commissioner.
He was colorfully candid as he fielded questions about both this championship series and the state of the sport as it prepares to move forward without him. He had previously stated his intention of vacating his position on Feb. 1, 2014, the 30-year anniversary of his accepting the job.
For any broadcasters worried about a repeat disaster of the last time LeBron James matched up against the San Antonio Spurs on the sport's biggest stage, Stern did his best to put those fears to rest:
David Stern: "This is probably the most anticipated Finals in, who knows, 30 years.''— Chris Tomasson (@christomasson) June 6, 2013
He has a responsibility to put the league in the brightest light possible, but his words carried more weight than some public relations spin. James' Miami Heat and the Spurs proved their respective dominance over the last eight months and should be on the verge of a battle for the ages:
David Stern: "We expect to have a heck of a series, probably the best I could expect for my last Finals.''— Chris Tomasson (@christomasson) June 6, 2013
But that was about the extent of the fluff that Stern provided. The questions got harder, and the commissioner kept the answers coming.
When asked about his decision to fine the Spurs $250,000 for sending home a collection of prominent players the last time that these two teams were set to square off in Miami, Stern stood by his ruling:
David Stern on whether he regrets fining the Spurs for sending players home in November in Miami: "The simple answer is no.''— Chris Tomasson (@christomasson) June 6, 2013
He elaborated on his thought process, saying that while he understood the need for rest, he couldn't allow a team to take a wholesale approach to the strategy.
"We have some obligation to our fans to come up with some system... that if you buy a ticket for a team you might see a representation of that team,'' Stern said, via Chris Tomasson of Fox Sports.
After his historical questions finished, Stern offered a glimpse at possible evolutions for the league's officials.
He said that the NBA has considered moving its replay review duties out of the arena:
Stern says League is "toying" with idea of off-site replay reviews.
— Lang Whitaker (@langwhitaker) June 6, 2013
And Stern may have already found a home for his potential off-site review crew:
Mark Cuban (@mcuban) June 6, 2013
But while the constant breaks in action haven't rested well with the league's restless fanbase, there's been a more troubling trend that has bothered even the biggest hoops heads.
For a game that's lost so much of its physical nature over the past decade, flopping has only furthered the notion that basketball is becoming far too soft. Stern addressed the issue with a series of escalating warnings and fines for the regular season, then upped the ante with a $5,000 fine sans warning in the postseason.
But the commissioner admitted that a mere slap of the wrist isn't enough to deter his millionaire stars:
David Stern on NBA flopping fines: "It isn't enough. You're not going to stop it with $5000."— Sean Deveney (@SeanDeveney) June 6, 2013
This one could get a little tricky. While few players will publicly support the act of flopping, the player's association will keep a careful watch on just where these fines may be headed.
But that's probably OK with Stern. By the time these debates really get started it will be deputy commissioner—Stern's successor—Adam Silver playing the role of peacemaker.