David Stern is the best commissioner in all of sports and when the news broke that Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittendon brought guns into an NBA locker room, they kind of both sealed their fate. I just knew that Commissioner Stern would come down hard on both players. He has been trying to clean up the image of his game for a number of years now and actions like this by Crittendon and Arenas cast the league in a bad light. Stern decided to come down hard on both players and send a message that actions like theirs will not be tolerated by suspending both of these guys for the remainder of this NBA season. I think this is a fair punishment because on one hand it sends a message to Crittendon, Arenas and the rest of the NBA. On the other hand, it allows both of the players to think about what they did, reflect on it and have the ability to show some remorse and come back to the NBA after a year off and still make their livelihood by playing the game of basketball.
David Stern joined Mike and Mike on ESPN Radio to talk about the NBA All Star game this weekend, whether or not he would like to see LeBron in the dunk contest, why he decided on the punishment that he did for both Arenas and Crittendon, whether or not he thought about a different punishment.
On his expectations for the All Star game:
“Obviously the Sunday game is going to host the largest crowd in the history of the world to attend a basketball game. For that we have to thank Mark (Cuban) and Jerry Jones who have combined to make this a great success already for the folks of north Texas. We’re gonna have a lot of fun. I think we’ll have the Guinness Book of Records ready to make an entry for us. That’s only the All Star game. We have the All Star Saturday night and we are showcasing on Friday our spectacular rookies and sophomores and lots of fun. It’s just the capital of basketball whether it’s the WNBA, the D-League, the Wheelchair Basketball Championship, the Globetrotters, and the Celebrity game. We’re just gonna have a lot of fun for the weekend and that’s what All Star has become for us; a celebration of our sport to bring in everyone from around the world.”
On whether or not he would like to see the stars like LeBron James in the dunk contest:
“There’s an internal debate going on here. My answer is no. Everyone says ‘what are you crazy? What about the ratings?’ I love to give everybody a chance to shine. No matter who’s in it, come Saturday night at the final round, that will be our highest rating. This gives us an opportunity to demonstrate the athleticism of our players and let in a couple of guys who might not otherwise make it. I have no special belief that having the stars in will be great for it. It may actually set up people for disappointment.”
On what message he was trying to send with the suspension of Gilbert Arenas:
“That we mean what we say. It may be legal to own a handgun that’s properly registered in accordance with whatever jurisdiction you’re in but it can’t be carried or possessed on league business and we’re going to act as strongly as necessary to assure that everyone understands that and complies with that rule.”
On whether or not there was a thought of a longer suspension for Gilbert Arenas:
“Every option was considered and at the end of the day my job is to sort of close the door, pull up my socks, and make a decision and this one seemed right. On one hand it seemed to be a very strong message and on the other hand leave open the opportunity for both thoughtfulness and redemption. That’s where we came out.”
On Dick Vitale saying that the one-and-done rule is a joke and his rebuttal to that:
“First of all, the joke that it is, is an NCAA joke. That is to say Dick Vitale is saying that the schools don’t enforce the rules with scholar athletes. I don’t believe that is true for all schools. Some may not. The idea that the NBA gets blamed for the fact that the school and the coach have a player that doesn’t go to classes in the second semester is not the NBA’s fault and somebody better step up and take responsibility for that. Number two, it has nothing to do with the NCAA rule. It’s strictly a matter of collective bargaining with the players association and Dick has been around long enough to know that. Our rule is about our business and we can’t change it unless we negotiate with the Players Association. It used to be high school, now it’s 19 and a year removed from high school. The one and done is really a shorthanded way of saying the great players only go for one year. That’s okay with us. It’s better than coming right out because we get to see them either in the D-League, in college, in Europe playing against more elite competition. I think we need a fundamental understanding. Would we like two years, sure. But what would you give to get that and is it gettable? It’s really about us and our Players Association. It has nothing to do with the NCAA other than its non enforcement of attendance and not it, it’s the individual coaches. I know plenty of coaches who enforce it completely and their players go to class and they play and they’re better for it. That’s up to the schools, up to the coaches, and up to the players.”