So this is what corruption looks like? In one heavy-handed swing, David Stern landed a shot that shattered the integrity of the game. After years of conspiracy theories, Stern provided more ammo to support the claim that his game is about controlling and manufacturing outcomesâ€”and not about responsible stewardship. Remember, it was only a couple of years ago that NBA referee Tim Dognhey was shipped away to prison for betting on games he officiated. Back then, Stern called Dognhey a rogue official. Do you believe it now? If the Stern can control player movement after teams follow the rules in the new CBA, what else can he do?
AsÂ social medial networks are ablaze with comments about Sternâ€™s attempt to burn the teams involved in the trade, a few words come to mind to describe how he scorched the NBA’s reputationâ€”again. Corruption. Collusion. Control. Itâ€™s one thing to negotiate a CBA that attempts to create greater competitive balanceâ€”itâ€™s another thing to intervene in team business when the league doesnâ€™t like the outcome. Yes, the NBA owns the Hornets. But, it placed Dell Demps in charge to manage that team with full autonomyâ€”all in an attempt to avoid a situation like this.
Zach Harper from the Daily Dime Live said: “If this is a case of limiting what a big-market team can do, that sounds like league collusion to me.” Meanwhile, Larry Coon from ESPN stated that: “For whatever reason, Stern is now exercising his power to nix deals he doesn’t like.” Sounds like Stern is crossing the Rubicon, right? As Ramona Shelburne writes in the NBA sets a dangerous precedent, “it simply doesn’t make sense to allow Hornets general manager Dell Demps to negotiate this hard and this deep into this many possible trades for Paul for the league office” to ultimately pull the plug. The magnitude of the move subdues the excitement that naturally comes with the start of a new season and taints the entire NBA operation. With Stern at the helm, possibilities no longer have a shot at becoming a reality. It’s a sad day for the NBAâ€”and it exposes David Sternâ€™s penchant for maintaining a heavy-handed level of control over the game he’s suppose to govern fairly and objectively.
As Yahoo!â€™s Charles Joel points out, â€śAfter a career of bullying players and coaches, mishandling lockout negotiations, dishing out draconian fines and managing a cheating referee scandal, this is how Stern launches the 2011-12 NBA seasonâ€ť? Although Stern is feared by league officials, one is unable to deny that his questionable tactics over the years have damaged the game immeasurably. Perhaps, the lockout was a byproduct of incompetence rather than collusionâ€”but blocking a fairly negotiated trade was an act of corruption. Either way, the NBA must actâ€”and act quickly.
So how does the NBA clean up its own mess? First, it must reverse its decision and allow the trade to happen based on the parameters of the agreement negotiated by the three teams involved. Second, and most importantly, David Stern must step down immediately. The NBA product is too valuable for Stern’s anachronistic approach to keep holding it back. As he has demonstrated through his actions, Stern doesn’t have the ability or intention of maximizing the value of the NBA brand. Regardless of his intentions, it’s never been easier to blow the whistle and make the right call. Stern must go.Â