Commissioner David Stern's Warning To NBA Stars: Keep The Game In Mind

Justice HillCorrespondent IJune 6, 2010

ORLANDO, FL - MAY 04: NBA Commissioner David Stern leaves the arena as the Atlanta Hawks were defeated by the Orlando Magic in Game One of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at Amway Arena on May 4, 2010 in Orlando, Florida. The Magic defeated the Hawks 114-71. 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 Doug Benc/Getty Images)
Doug Benc/Getty Images

The summit of the NBA stars won't happen. Whether the decision to forgo the free-agent gathering came in an edict from commissioner David Stern  or was a simple rethinking of a bad idea, it doesn't matter.

While LeBron JamesDwyane Wade , Chris Bosh and others have the right to meet and plot a strategy that benefits them, they have a larger obligation to consider: the state of the game.

They need to worry about that first.

The NBA is in financial trouble, a point Stern has been stressing since the U.S. economy took a turn south. In the past year, the NBA lost a reported $400 million, hardly pocket change. Even a championship-caliber team like the Cavaliers saw its balance sheet land in the red. The Cavs sold out all their games at The Q, and the team had King James . Yet all of that didn't translate into a fat return investment for owner Dan Gilbert.

Now, what happens to Gilbert's franchise if LeBron  signs somewhere else? How attractive will the NBA product be overall if two or three free-agent stars cast their lot with a mega-market team like the Knicks or the Nets or the Bulls? What might their deck-stacking do for franchises like Memphis, Golden State, New Orleans, Cleveland, Atlanta, Milwaukee, and Minnesota?

Again, what does their ham-handed attempt to alter the balance of power in favor of building one super-franchise do for those lesser markets?

Here's the answer: nothing good.