This is an article from the May 9, 2011 issue
LABOR STRIFE VETERAN
The NBA commissioner presided over a lockout during the 1998--99 season and faces a potential work stoppage following this season
Dan Patrick:Are you surprised Ron Artest won the NBA's citizenship award?
David Stern: No. I've been watching him grow and become an adviser to others and recognize his own vulnerabilities. I think that it was quite a moment when he thanked his therapist upon winning the [2010 NBA] championship. It can be taken lightly, but I don't think it should be. It meant so much to so many people to hear somebody who has been struggling [with emotional issues] say that.
DP:If the Sacramento Kings eventually want to move to Anaheim, could Southern California support three teams?
DS: It's a tough one. I think at the end of the day you could probably find support for an NBA team. Would it be enough? It likely could be. This move is particularly difficult in uncertain times. We're working on a new collective bargaining agreement, and we're working on a new revenue-sharing agreement among our teams.
DP:What have you learned from the NFL labor situation that can help you avoid any potholes?
DS: My head is spinning. You just learn that some things have a way of getting away from you. I'm not sure that Judge Nelson [federal judge Susan Nelson] herself understands what she told the NFL to do. It's easy to announce the lockout is [adjourned]. O.K., now what, Judge?
DP:If you're confused, should NBA fans be worried?
DS: I'm going to not be confused by the time our collective bargaining agreement expires. So don't be nervous on that account. But we're all watching—[NBA Players Association chief Billy] Hunter and I with equal interest—to see what the impact of this is on collective bargaining in sports. I think that it's the first round in a long battle. In a time of great uncertainty, it would be wise for the owners and players to make a deal. That's the message that Billy and I have given to each other.
DP:Is the one-and-done rule working for the NBA?
DS: There's no one-and-done rule. I would say it's incorrect to call it that. The question we have is on eligibility. It's only one and done if the colleges solicit the players to come, knowing that they are likely to leave. [In that case] I don't think the colleges should take them in.
DP:Why don't you work with the colleges?
DS: We can't work with the colleges. This is a matter of collective bargaining between us and our players.
DP:O.K., then what do you think of players going to the NBA after one year of college?
DS: It's better than [after] high school. From a pure business perspective, we say that it's better for our teams to be able to see a player with an additional year of experience.
DP:What if we say you've got to be 20 to play in the NBA?
DS: That would be better yet. We asked for 20 in collective bargaining, and we settled at 19. I'm sure we'll ask again.
DP:Do you ever wear a team jersey around the office?
DS: Usually when I'm horsing around, greeting a team owner. When Red Auerbach would come in, I used to put on a Celtics jersey.
• Lion Is Loose
Detroit defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh seems particularly eager to get back to playing football. Suh told me he was walking in New York City when he saw a man wearing a Peyton Manning jersey and thought, "What if I just tackle that dude because I saw number 18?" Maybe public safety concerns will trump the NFL's labor impasse.
• Leaf's Lesson
The four quarterbacks drafted in the first round last Thursday don't have to look far for cautionary tales: Several recent high picks at that position flamed out. But Ryan Leaf remains the most notorious QB bust in recent NFL history. Looking back, Leaf wishes he hadn't gone No. 2 in 1998. "I was a very entitled and very spoiled athlete at that time," Leaf told me. "You don't want to say the money changes you, but it definitely does. I think getting drafted later would have been a benefit."
• Line of the week
New Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder on whether his last name implies that he can't make quick decisions on the field: "As crazy as it sounds, my mom's maiden name is actually Superbowlwinner. All one word."
Now Hear This
Listen to the podcasts at danpatrick.com/interviews
1. Warren Sapp questions critics of No. 1 overall pick Cam Newton.
2. Kevin McHale shares his perspective on the NBA playoffs.
THE FINE PRINT: Donald Trump will drive the pace car at the Indianapolis 500. First, he's demanding that President Obama produce a valid driver's license.