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David Stern’s Ill-Advised Messing With Jim Rome Won’t Matter, Because He’s David Stern
Well, David Stern usually finds a way to make things interesting. He went on Jim Rome’s show earlier today, and over the course of their discussion, a question came up that comes up often in discussions of Stern’s NBA, with varying degrees of seriousness: is the draft lottery rigged? Conspiracy theorists have posed this question ever since the Knicks got Patrick Ewing, and when the just-now-getting-bought-from-the-league-itself New Orleans Hornets won the right to this year’s No. 1 pick, Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski (one of the more respected NBA writers out there) documented that such talk isn’t even uncommon within the league itself.
Stern, though, doesn’t want to hear it. And when he did hear it from Rome, who posed the question in black-and-white terms if “the fix” was in, Stern responded in a way that was… questionable:
A few things here. For one, Stern was not implying that Rome actually beats his wife. It was a rhetorical device Stern used to highlight that he thought Rome’s question was unfair, by throwing an example of a grossly unfair question back at him. (Stern’s even used it before.) Rome, judging by the fact that he didn’t completely flip out on Stern for “asking,” seemed to get that. Two, we don’t think the lottery was rigged. Three, phrasing it like Rome did – “the fix” – was a little melodramatic.
But it was classic David Stern all around – even more so as the conversation went on and he actually did offend Rome by implying that he’s out for “cheap thrills.” The condescension in that line practically leaps out of your speakers. Stern, truly, gives no fucks, and knows he can be as smug as he wants in any given situation. He’s been commission er nearly three decades. The lockout that left so many disillusioned and bitter is already a distant memory. His league’s the talk of the sports world. Who’s stopping him from saying and doing whatever he wants?
Nobody. So Stern says what he wants, even if it’s not the best idea. He was just being David Stern with the “beating your wife” comment, but more than a few people posed the question: was that really a good idea in that setting? Maybe Stern deserves credit, in a weird way, for never changing no matter what the setting, but how does he not see that if he uses that “rhetorical device,” the immediate headline is something along the lines of “ZOMG STERN ASKS ROME IF HE BEATS HIS WIFE”?
Or maybe he does see, and it just doesn’t matter because, again, he’s David Stern. He can use that phrase to show that he doesn’t appreciate your loaded question, even if your question isn’t as loaded as he seems to think it is (at its heart, it was a simple yes-no, as Stern’s alternate “No” answer showed). He can talk shit to you and say Stephen A. Smith is more important.
Biographer Robert Caro’s been in the news lately thanks to the latest volume of his decades-in-the-making Lyndon Johnson biography series, but when it comes to Stern, we can’t help but think of Caro’s first big subject, New York urban planner Robert Moses. Moses accrued so much power over the years, Caro wrote, that he was able to become completely insulated from reality. His world, his ideas were all that mattered, because no one else was powerful enough to tell him otherwise. Listening to interviews like this, one might wonder: is Stern at the same point in his commissionership? Has he already been there for years?
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