After a long offseason that featured collective bargaining negotiations, the NBA started the season late and decided on a condensed, 66-game schedule. While no one really knew what to expect this year and the league looked in danger of losing some fans after what went down this offseason, with about one month to go before the playoffs get started, the NBA season has been very interesting. Even though there have been some poorly played games at times, the season has provided a lot of excitement and it has been full of storylines. There are surprising teams like the Indiana Pacers, surprising players like Jeremy Lin who came out of nowhere to capture the nation’s attention, stars playing like stars and the playoff races have tightened up as we arrive at the stretch run before the playoffs. Given all that transpired this offseason, I’m not sure Commissioner David Stern could’ve asked for anything more.
David Stern joined 1320 KFAN in Salt Lake City with Spence and Scotty G to talk about the team in Utah right now and what he thinks about when he visits Salt Lake City, how the response has been for the NBA this year, and how much longer he plans on being the NBA Commissioner.
What he thinks about when he visits Salt Lake City:
“There were so many different strands. I think of (John) Stockton and (Karl) Malone and Jerry Sloan. I think about Hot Rod Hundley and I really think about Larry Miller and how important it was for him to have this team in this community. I think he would feel good about everything that is happening here. The Collective Bargaining Agreement and what it is going to mean for the Jazz, the way the Jazz have sort of rebounded from a loss of a couple of players who didn’t want to be here, the loss of a Hall-Of-Fame coach and here we are with a team that is contending for the playoffs. I also think there’s been a heightened appreciation of folks of Salt Lake City and the greater Utah community about the importance of the Jazz to the community. I think that would’ve pleased Larry greatly.”
What the reaction has been from fans about the NBA season so far:
“The truth is it has been great. The five games on Christmas Day, not the most popular in some quarters, some communities, and with some coaches, but was a way to say we we’re back and it was like stark and sparkling and we’re up in viewing because all of our network partners were up a wee bit in attendance over a very good year last year. We’re up in social media, sales of merchandise, and everything is absolutely and unbelievably good. Maybe we don’t deserve it and I would accept that. It is not dawning on everybody that this was a good deal. For their part, the players unlike coming out of the lockout in hockey, they didn’t give up anything in their existing contracts, they didn’t have to suffer givebacks of their existing contracts, but on the other hand going forward we’re going to save 12 percent per year on our largest cost, the player services. We’re going to have four year contracts if you want to sign someone else’s free agent. I saw today Joey Votto signed a ten year deal and will be 40 when it’s over and the NBA can be a four-year deal or five if it’s your own player and then when that is over, if the guy is performing that’s what we call aligning pay and performance so that is really good. The luxury tax is going up and the teams that choose to be there are going to feel it considerably and I think they’re going to evaluate their activities because if you’re 30 million above the tax you’re going to pay 70 million, it’s going to be 100 million player for a 30 million dollar player, it’s not happening.”
How much longer he plans on being the NBA Commissioner:
“Well I’m not going to announce my retirement here. I don’t know. I’ve said it’s not going to be six years, that’s the parameters. (Host: Still having fun?) Oh I love it. It’s actually a great deal of fun. Last week I was in Phoenix, I was in Colorado, this week I’m here, next week we have owner’s meetings, I’m going to go see Bird and Magic opening night on Broadway the night before the owners meeting, what am I nuts? Everything that happens is fun. I have the best job in the world. Next February will be 29 years so we’ll see. I’d like to think along the way I’ve gotten so many great colleagues in the NBA that eventually should have the opportunity to show their stuff as a group. It’s not tomorrow, it’s not soon, but it’s not eternity either.”