After fining Spurs, it’s time for David Stern to step down as NBA comissioner

By: Kels Dayton

Enough is enough.

David Stern should retire, because that would be in the "best interest of the game." Adam Hunger/Reuters

It’s time for David Stern to end his reign of terror and get the heck up out of the NBA’s commissioner chair. Not in two years, as he is planning to do. Not next year. Now.

Stern has been running the NBA like the mafia for 28 years. Do what I say, or else. Big words and  a Cheshire cat smile have long masked his violent urge to put as much money in his owners’ pockets as possible, with no regard to integrity, fairness or common sense.

Yesterday, Stern fined the San Antonio Spurs $250,000 for resting stars Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, and Manu Ginobili during a nationally televised Thursday night game on TNT.

This move stinks because it suggests that the league cares more about making money than protecting its integrity. It’s the same idea behind stars getting special treatment from the referees, those same referees manipulating playoff series to ensure that they last longer and provide a bigger payday for the league, and the system being fixed against small-market teams.

No other league in major pro sports has its fans openly questioning whether or not the commissioner would want to see their team win the championship. No NFL fan wonders whether or not a Steelers-Cardinals Super Bowl would be bad for the league. No one in baseball suggests that Selig would never allow a Brewers-Tigers World Series.

How do you fine a team for not playing certain players? Shouldn’t Gregg Popovich, with four NBA titles to his name, be allowed to play Tommy Lasorda at power forward if he thinks it can help his team?

Doesn’t Popovich, who was hired to do whatever he feels is in the best interest of his team, deserve the right to do his job without the Godfather casting his ugly shadow over roster decisions?

Stern claimed that by resting their players, who had played five games in eight days, the Spurs “did a disservice to the league and our fans.” Bull.

Stern himself did a disservice to the league and its fans by butting his bulbous head into someone else’s business. He made the NBA once again look like the mafia, where the phrase “best interest of our game” is used as a euphemism for “biggest payday possible.”

Tim Donaghy, the disgraced former referee who bet on games and served a year in prison, has said that the league has a decision to make about its product. Is it a game or a show?

If it’s a game, let the coaches do whatever they need to in order to win those games, and stay the hell out of their business.

If it’s a show, then tell everyone it’s a show. Add a five-point shot, have every playoff series go seven games, and make sure that Kobe takes on LeBron in the NBA Finals.

As New York Times columnist Sam Borden said, fans would have the right to be upset if they had purchased tickets to a Broadway show and the star got sick. But this isn’t supposed to be a show. It’s a basketball game. A competitive contest where the ultimate goal is winning a championship, not selling tickets. Popovich said that leaving Duncan, Ginobili and Parker home was “a pretty logical decision” for his team. He’s done it before, and he’ll likely do it again, and that is the saving grace in all of this. Hopefully, a $250,000 fine and some confrontational yelling won’t dissuade Popovich from doing what’s best for his team.

It was the NBA, in the first place, that scheduled five games in eight days, all on the road. Now, ESPN’s Marc Stein is reporting that Popovich’s decision may hurt his chances of coaching Team USA in the 2016 Olympics.

It’s embarrassing that Stern is so open about intimidating his constituents with fines and threats, protecting the league’s already thickly-lined pockets with a furious rage, all behind that phony “best interest of the game” veil.

It’s time for Stern to go, for no other reason than, well…

It would actually be in the best interest of the game.


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