NBA Commentary: David Stern Is Not a Plantation Overseer

Warren ShawCorrespondent IIOctober 20, 2011

NBA Commissioner David Stern has been accused of being a plantaion overseer by Bryant Gumbel
NBA Commissioner David Stern has been accused of being a plantaion overseer by Bryant GumbelMichael Cohen/Getty Images

According to several news sources, including ESPN, the NBA and Commissioner David Stern declined comment on Bryant Gumbel's assertion that Stern has come off like a "modern plantation overseer" during the lockout.

Using racially focused remarks, Gumbel said on his HBO show that Stern is "a modern plantation overseer treating NBA men as if they were his boys." I am a fan of Gumbel’s since his groundbreaking days on the "Today Show," but his comments about Stern are over the top.

No plantation owner in history has been so giving of the plantation's wealth as David Stern. If that were not the case, would the players association be in the midst of trying to negotiate over 50 percent of the revenue.

Impressively, Stern was a former board member of the NAACP in the 1990s, and during his reign, the NBA has been given glowing accolades for its diversity hiring practices and minority ownership. Sometimes it is easy in the midst of battle to forget that other individuals in Stern’s chair may not so understanding about diversity even on the floor of a basketball court.

I wonder how it would be if individuals with attitudes like Rush Limbaugh or even Herman Cain were commissioners?

I also don’t have any knowledge of slave owners giving “freed slaves’ ownership of plantations err…NBA franchises.

Bryant Gumbel made racially tinged remarks on his HBO program
Bryant Gumbel made racially tinged remarks on his HBO programDonald Bowers/Getty Images

Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson both can attest to the fact that ownership of a NBA franchise is possible because of Stern’s advocacy like him or not.

Players such as Dwyane Wade, who had a run-in with Stern, may not agree, but when you peel back the layers this is big business, big revenue and big stakes.

Gumbel, 63, admitted his comments would cause a negative reaction but said he didn't care. Much the same way as Fox News and well-paid radio personality Rush Limbaugh make controversial rants for ratings Gumbel’s comments can be looked upon in the same fashion.

Similar assertions could be made during the 2006 Winter Olympics, when Gumbel said, "Try not to laugh when someone says these are the world's greatest athletes despite the paucity of blacks that make the World Games look like a GOP convention."

The NCAA is another matter entirely with revenues reaching everyone but the players. As players get more educated and lawyers get more motivated, the current NCAA practices may change.

Star NBA players like LeBron James and Kobe Bryant are entertaining going barnstorming on a tour that will certainly be successful in drawing fans into seats.

If you ever saw the movie Bingo Long and the Traveling All-Stars starring Billy Dee Williams and James Earl Jones, you will clearly see a lot has changed in owner versus players negotiations.

In that movie, black baseball players (the league was then segregated) revolted against the owners of Negro League Baseball organization by forming their own barnstorming team.

The movie does an excellent job of describing how what we fight for regardless of race or religion continues to evolve.

I agree that it makes more readable copy to report on black men doing bad things such as allegedly negotiating in bad faith, carrying weapons, drugs or making controversial racial statements, but Stern is a businessman representing a billion dollar enterprise, and Bryant Gumbel is a television personality who needs to attract viewers to his employers just as lucrative media outlet.

Does that mean Stern is a bigot—I say no—an opportunistic business man working in the interest of NBA owners?


Multi-millionaire slaves, what an original concept.