This is an article from the Nov. 16, 2009 issue
PRO HOOPS HONCHO
The New York City native, who first worked for the NBA as the league's outside counsel in 1966, is in his 26th season as commissioner
Dan Patrick:Do you have to study the rosters at the start of the season?
David Stern: I do read all of the preseason analyses. Just for kicks. Sporting News, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, Slam, USA Today. You name it, whenever they do an analysis of what the future holds for our teams, I get a kick out of reading the predictions.
DP:Have you ever written a letter to the editor?
DS: Only in my mind. Many.
DP:Did you get invited to Lamar Odom and Khloe Kardashian's wedding?
DS: I didn't. But I was busy. I can't remember what I was doing, but I was busy.
DP:Where does the NBA stand on overseas expansion?
DS: Nothing on the agenda as we speak. Period. Certainly nothing domestically, and internationally it's just fun to talk about because it always gets attention.
DP:What would be the big stumbling block? Travel?
DS: No. We have to not take ourselves and our growth too seriously. We're more popular than some other sports, and we're more popular than we used to be. But that doesn't mean that we're popular enough to sustain the right business model, which requires selling 41 games at high prices, having great sponsorship and television arrangements, having enough arenas and having deep-pocketed owners who want to jump into the pool with us. So it's a long-term process.
DP:What about contraction? Has that been discussed?
DS: Any conversation about increased revenue sharing—which is what we're doing and what there will be more of when we conclude our collective bargaining agreement [which expires in 2011]—necessarily involves the hypothetical of, What if rather than paying more to certain teams, we contracted? But that doesn't seem to be a realistic option.
DP:Have you read the excerpts from disgraced former referee Tim Donaghy's book [which was canceled just before it went to publication]?
DS: I have read the excerpts that were on Deadspin.
DP:What jumped out at you?
DS: The only thing that jumps out at me is that any suggestion that the league itself is responsible for directing that scores be altered in some way, shape or form—which would itself be the commission of a crime—is simply not true.
DP:But are you forced to look into it?
DS: At some point we're going to look into everything. Anything that gets said, we're using as an opportunity to button up whatever remains unbuttoned in the oversight of our officiating program. We did it once before, and we'll do it again.
DP:Is it better for the league to have LeBron stay in Cleveland or play elsewhere?
DS: I believe a system should favor the incumbent team in the re-signing of the player. So we have a system where Cleveland can promise to LeBron a sum of money that no other team can. And that's been embedded in our system since we went to a salary cap. And I think that's the right way to go. Although I don't know if I have unanimous support among our fans for my view.
Wide receivers have had a reputation for being prima donnas since long before Keyshawn Johnson wrote the book Just Give Me the Damn Ball!, but Brandon Marshall of the Broncos told me that attitude simply goes with the territory. "Wide receivers come off as divas, but we're really the only position that can ask for the ball," he said. "The defense can't ask for it. Quarterbacks and running backs already have it. Tight ends are like linemen. We're the only position left."
I asked lifelong Yankees fanatic Bob Costas if he disagreed with White Sox manager and Fox postseason commentator Ozzie Guillen's proclamation during the World Series that Derek Jeter is the greatest Yankee ever. Costas gave me his list of the alltime best Bronx Bombers.
1. Babe Ruth
2. Lou Gehrig
3. Joe DiMaggio
4. Mickey Mantle
5. Mariano Rivera
6. Derek Jeter or Yogi Berra
Line of the week
Archie Griffin joked that his status as the only two-time Heisman winner should entitle him to a perk: "I've been lobbying for [two Heisman votes], but they still haven't given it to me. I have two trophies, but just one vote."
Now Hear This
Listen to the podcasts at danpatrick.com/interviews
1. Oregon coach Chip Kelly on suspended RB LeGarrette Blount.
2. Niners LB Patrick Willis discusses coach Mike Singletary.
THE FINE PRINT: The Redskins have a new policy that prohibits any signs at FedExField. Unless they are scripted by Sherm Lewis.
Go to danpatrick.com for more on-demand interviews
PRESENTED BY BOSE