If the Houston Chronicle's report about the circus surrounding Stern's veto of Paul's initial trade to the Los Angeles Lakers is true, then the commish has some serious 'splainin' to do.
Since Paul's move to the Clippers, Stern has claimed that he never signed off on the deal that would've sent Paul to the Lakers and brought Lamar Odom and a package of players and draft picks from the Houston Rockets to the New Orleans Hornets. Also, that his decision, acting as the chief executive of the league-owned franchise, was not at all influenced by any of his constituent owners.
However, word out of Houston suggests that Stern did, in fact, know the full details of the original three-team deal and had even given it his stamp of approval before he decided to call the whole thing off.
The collapse of the deal, while harmful to the now-Odom-less Lakers, was particularly devastating to the Rockets, who would've received Pau Gasol from L.A. Gasol would've given Houston a bona fide star to replace the retired Yao Ming, and around whom to build a contender in the Western Conference. Rockets GM Daryl Morey was then expected to go after free-agent big man Nene to fill out his team's front line, a move that might have vaulted Houston into the title picture.
Instead, Morey and team owner Leslie Alexander were left standing at the altar, with only a handful of disgruntled players and Kevin McHale as the head coach to show for their near-Herculean efforts.
The Hornets ultimately got what appears to be a better deal for the franchise in the long run. The package of pieces they received—Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman, Al-Farouq Aminu and Minnesota's first-round pick in 2012—is younger and much cheaper than the one the Lakers and Rockets had allegedly agreed to, thereby leaving the franchise in better shape financially for its expected sale to a new owner.
Still, that hardly excuses Stern's duplicity and collusive meddling in the matter. Stern's spinning and twisting of the facts here is nothing new; he's built a reputation, if not a sports empire, on his deft ability to handle the media with equal parts smugness and endearment.
But never before has he wielded his iron fist in a manner so negligent to the well-being of multiple franchises, especially ones as iconic as the Lakers and the Rockets, under his office.
It's one thing for the commissioner to rebrand the truth in his favor. It's another thing entirely for him to lie outright, as it appears he's done, to rub the NBA's faces in both of his.
For that, and for the public relations nightmare that he instigated and has yet to quash entirely, Stern must step down. It's been clear all along that Stern has overstayed his welcome, and that his near-27-year reign atop the NBA has gone on for far too long.
Let's hope, for the sake of the game we all know and love, that King Dave's most recent, reprehensible and reviling appearance on national TV will be among his last.
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