As television ratings plummet for NBA games each year, so does confidence in NBA Commissioner David Stern. The man who rode Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and Michael Jordan’s coattails to an eight figure annual salary has reached the end of his usefulness in the NBA.
Desperate to maintain the NBA’s fading popularity with television advertisers, David Stern has led the league down the Hollywood path of, “Any news is good news” when it comes to ratings. Case in point: Kobe Bryant and Carmello Anthony, two of the league's highly marketed players, have had their share of legal troubles over the years. Yet Steve Nash, a two-time MVP, is rarely mentioned in the league's promos.
With players like Denver Nuggets PF Chris Andersen presenting the image of the NBA to the viewing public, Stern has allowed the players to take control of their own marketing ploys.
The league has transformed into an individual sport rather than a team sport. Everyone wants to be the next Dennis Rodman and get their piece of the pie. To do so, you have to standout in appearance as much as your play. Kids as young as 13 and 14 years old are now sporting tattoos like their heroes in order to get respect and be seen.
An increase in fighting since the highly visible Pacer/Piston mêlée has become a huge part of the NBA. You can hardly watch a playoff game without seeing players ready to throw down because they were disrespected when fouled.
Really, is the hockey route the way Stern wants to go? That has worked out so well for that league. If he really wanted to stop the fighting, he could do so. It’s a matter of creating harsher penalties against anyone who swings an elbow or throws a punch. A one game suspension is not a deterrent.
Finally, when former NBA official Tim Donaghy was busted for his involvement in a NBA gambling scheme, Stern was quick to say he was "certain that this was an isolated incident and Donaghy was a rogue official.” Sure enough, according to his own office’s investigation, Donaghy was the only referee who was fixing NBA games.
Stern has obviously lost control of every aspect of the league, from players to officials, to television ratings. It is time for a change in leadership, and NBA owners need to go outside the NBA family of lawyers and bring in an iron-fisted leader who will help return the league to respectability.