David Stern: The Reason The NBA Is No Longer Worth Watching

Straight Outta V-TownCorrespondent IMarch 29, 2010

LOS ANGELES - FEBRUARY 13:  Steve Francis #1 of the New York Knicks looks on against the Los Angeles Lakers on February 13, 2007 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. The Knicks won 107-106.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

I've been saying for a long time that David Stern not only manipulates the game by giving direct orders to the refs, brokers trade that build/revive while sabotage players' legacy and perceptions, but worst of all, manufacture/package stars while destroying or marginalizing certain players' careers.

Many of you called me a psycho, a nutjob, and completely paranoid for suggesting Stern blackballing and marginalizing certain players he doesn't like. Well, in this month's issue of ESPN The Magazine, an unnamed NBA star has this to say. http://myespn.go.com/s/conversations/show/story/4937084 and this article from 3 years ago http://www.nykfanpage.com/editorials/viewarticle.php?articleid=215.

One of the most appealing aspect of professional sports is that unlike usual workplace, there is a perceived sense of meritocracy over politics. Fans watch the games with the assumption that the best players get to play and the players are utilized in a way that maximize the fans experience. Unfortunately, that is no longer the case.

Stern is capable of dictating who should be the stars, what the media writes about (positive image vs. negative perception to fans. Why do you think most people have negative perceptions of Stephen Jackson, Zach Randolph, Corey Maggette, Larry Hughes, Nate Robinson, Rafer Alston, etc? Are they really cancers or did the media make them out to be like that? Is their presence really a net negative to the team? Are Kobe "I-threw-a-chair-at-Lamar-Odom" Bryant and LeBron "I-destroyed-Hughes-Ben-Wallace-Marshall-McInnis-and-Szczerbiak's-careers James really good teammates?), who get the primetime TV slots, who gets their minutes, who gets the offensive touches, who win the championships, and the list goes on. By brokering trades, conspiring with the his media cronies, changing the rules, and manipulating games with the refs, it's not as hard as you think to create stars out of nothing and sabotage a superstars career in less than a year.

Isn't it odd that all the hyped youngsters all have the same clean cut, "squeaky-clean" image? All these guys you can't pick out of a crowd with no personality, individuality, or originality who show no emotion or passion for the game, come to work everyday to collect their paychecks, don't care about wins or losses. Slowly, Stern is turning the NBA into the "Stepford Wives". Just look at these overhyped players: Chris Bosh, Joe Johnson, Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, OJ Mayo, Stephen Curry, Deron Williams, Brandon Roy, Dwight Howard, Greg Oden, LaMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Durant, John Hall, Evan Warner, Blake Griffin, Rodney Stuckey, Mike Conley, etc. If they're not the epitome of boring, I don't know who is. It is no surprise that the Cavs and the Lakers have top 3 payrolls in the league for the last 5 years. It is no surprise that Gordon Gund was forced to sell the team shortly after LeBron James was drafted. It is no surprise that the Lakers traded Kwame Brown for Pau Gasol despite better offers on the table. It is no surprise that the Mavs lost in the 2006 finals (personal beef with Mark Cuban) and the Kings were robbed in the 2002 WCF. It is no surprise that despite being in a small market, the Cavs go way over the cap, luxury tax be damned, and are able to pull off blockbuster trades every deadline and offseason. It is no surprise that Allen Iverson's career was sabotaged less than one year after having his most efficient season in 2008 and led the Nuggets to a franchise record in wins despite a very flawed roster (Nene out due to cancer. no defensive glue guys or low post scorers a la Nene, Chris Andersen, Dahntay Jones, Arron Affalo, and Renaldo Balkman.) It is no surprise that outspoken guys like Steve Francis, who bashed Stern for racism after the Nuggets-Knicks brawl, are no longer in the league. It is no surprise that people like Jamaal Tinsley, Ron Artest, and Rasheed Wallace are no longer considered stars and have become irrelevant.

Throw in the racially-motivated dress code, no-tolerance rule (banning the show of emotions on the court or technical fouls), and getting rid of hip-hop during all-star games, NBA finals, and ABC/ESPN/TNT theme (replacing it with umm jazz no one cares about), the entertainment value is gone as well. Quite frankly, if this is the direction the NBA is going. I want no part in it. It is exactly why many long-time fans are disillusioned with the current state of the NBA.

Full article is here

Don't cross David Stern


This story appears in the March 8 issue of ESPN The Magazine.

Since the trade deadline just passed, some of you are probably wondering why your team shipped a guy out of town. Money is one reason guys get traded. So is talent. But there's a quicker way to be kicked to the curb in the NBA: getting blackballed.

I see it a lot. Take T.J. Ford, for example. He might be on his way, through no fault of his own. The guy had a career year last year, yet he was on the bench for a month -- and he wasn't injured. Players have been buzzing about him lately, wondering why one of the best guys on the Pacers isn't playing much. It could be anything. I know of a situation in which a starter got benched because the owner's son is friends with the guy who replaced him. 

Stuff like that happens all the time, and it's not always the coaches making the decision. Sometimes it comes from above. I'm pretty sure, for example, that Javaris Crittenton will be blackballed after his gun incident with Gilbert Arenas. Gilbert is a former All-Star with a big contract. He'll play again. But most players think Javaris is done, that GMs won't touch him. That's just wrong.

On the plane just the other day we were talking about how guys disappear: How Antoine Walker, Stephon Marbury, Bonzi Wells and Steve Francis were franchise players one day, out of the league the next. You never know where it comes from. It could be owners getting together to decide no one is going to offer a guy a contract (yes, it happens). Or it could come down from the commissioner. David Stern is not a man you want to cross. 

Stern is not a man you want to cross. 

The main thing that gets you blackballed in the NBA is being a bad influence on young players -- bad-mouthing the coach or refusing to listen to him, living the high life. If you're a veteran pulling young guys into that world, your days are numbered. GMs are wary of guys like that. They do all kinds of research before signing you, like talking to your high school coach and grade school teachers. The model organization is San Antonio. They hardly ever sign a guy who gets in trouble. And if they do, the guy shapes right up. If a GM thinks you're taking young guys out, getting them drunk and hooking them up with women, he'll drop you. And he'll tell other league GMs why. 

Some guys who've been run out of the NBA, like Bonzi, are doing whatever they can for another shot. Bonzi is better than a lot of guys in the league but won't get a second chance because of his rep as a bad locker room guy. The NBA doesn't have a team like the Bengals that gives bad-rep guys another chance. 

Sad thing is, you see some of these guys who are out of the league -- like Francis, Antoine or Steph -- and they still act as if they're stars. They're still like, "I'm the man. It's never gonna go away." They dress the same and spend money like they're still making it. I hear a lot of guys are working out in Chicago, waiting for the phone to ring. But the NBA doesn't really give you a second shot once you've been blackballed. Stern has the power to say a guy is not welcome anymore. You also have GMs with jobs on the line who don't want to take a risk. Look at what happened when Isiah Thomas signed bad locker room guys like Zach Randolph. The Knicks imploded, and Thomas got fired. 

I think this Arenas incident scared a lot of players. But I'm not sure if it will change much. The phone number the NBA gives us to call if we're struggling with alcohol and other things isn't going to start ringing off the hook. Thing is, this wasn't the first time Gilbert messed up. The NBA told him to chill a couple years ago, but I don't think he took it seriously. Word around the league is that he's at home freaking out, calling the NBA every five minutes to fix things, afraid it all might disappear. 

Funny enough, I haven't heard much about guys acting up this season. The Hawks used to be notorious for partying before they got Joe Johnson and got good. They had guys like Antoine, who would go out to clubs and go wild. It wasn't until they got rid of the bad influences that they started playing well. And you can usually tell who the bad influences are just by looking at how often a guy gets traded. If he's been moved five times, it probably doesn't have anything to do with creating cap room or getting good value. He's got an attitude problem, and his bosses sent him packin'. 

Player X is an NBA star. This is his second column in a series of unfiltered looks into the lives of professional athletes.