5 Events That Will Forever Scar David Stern’s NBA Legacy
A Three Decade Dictatorship
Being the leader or president of a company, state, country, business or leadership of any type is difficult. The leader is stuck to make the hard decisions, looked at in time of fear, renowned in times of triumph and hated in times of despair. It is never easy to be the leader or “the man”, but sometimes the leader only hurts him or herself.
Take NBA Commissioner David Stern for example. The old man has more than overstayed his welcome in professional basketball. For 30 years, he has ruled the Association with an iron fist, demanding his way or the highway.
I suppose that Stern never got off on the right foot when he took over as Commissioner in 1984. There is a belief that Stern rigged the 1985 draft in order to give the New York Knicks the No. 1 pick--the biggest television market getting the best player. It has never been confirmed, but the rumor doesn’t help Stern’s legacy.
That was only the beginning of a controversy-filled career for Stern. Between the brawls and suspension, drugs and gambling, stupid rules and even stupider ideas, Stern’s legacy is the equivalent of a frat boy’s college life. His carelessness and complete disregard of the democratic system has cost professional basketball popularity and respect.
Finally, the tyrant will release his grasp on the NBA and allow his successor, Adam Silver, to take over. Stern will retire this February on the 30-year anniversary of becoming Commissioner. There is no telling what direction Silver will take the league, but hopefully he does not follow in the footsteps of his predecessor. As for Stern, his legacy will be scarred with all the controversies that plagued him. Here are the five events that will forever haunt Stern.
The Era of the Flop
The art of acting has always been an important part of the game of basketball. The ability to sway a referee into calling a charge instead of a block is something that few players have, but has become a serious problem in the NBA.
The art of flopping, as it became known as, consumed the league a few years ago as players deliberately fell to the floor in hopes of drawing the foul or altering the game. Some of the best known floppers include Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Paul Pierce. Flopping got so bad that Stern and the league implemented a penalty system. The penalty system included fines for first time offenders and possible suspensions for repeat offenders.
The era of the flop brought about a drop in intensity and physicality, while increasing the amount of fouls and players whining. I’m sure that Stern will hear the ref’s whistle in the middle of the night and see visions of players flopping once he is retired.
When David Stern Owned New Orleans Hornets
Once upon a time, existed a franchise ravaged by losing seasons, Hurricane Katrina and relocation. Along came the NBA and Stern. The league purchased the New Orleans Hornets in 2010 for roughly $300 million. The move brought much ridicule and criticism, because the NBA is a governing body for all the teams throughout the country, not an owner.
Stern made it even more complicated when he vetoed a trade that would have sent Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Lakers, Lamar Odom to the league owned Hornets and Pau Gasol to the Houston Rockets. Stern never gave a specific or worthy excuse behind his decision and it only marred the commissioner even more.
Oh, the conflict of interest that Stern had created. He owned his own team and ran the entire league. The tyrant could do essentially whatever he wanted and that is what he did. To end this disgraceful period in the Association, the owner of the New Orleans Saints, Tom Benson, purchased the Hornets and changed the name to the Pelicans. Between Stern and Benson, they ruined a decent franchise. Congratulations to you two fools.
Four Lockouts in 20 Years
Nothing upsets fans more than a lockout. To hear the owners and players arguing over money only pushes loyal followers away and in some cases shows what greedy, low-lives professional sports players and team owners are.
For the NBA, they were lucky enough to experience four lockouts over the course of Stern’s controversial career, two of which shortened the seasons. There was the lockout of 1995 that lasted roughly three months during the offseason. Then there was the lockout of 1996 that lasted a few hours.
Next was the third lockout in five years. The 1998-99 lockout spanned over the course of half-a-year and shortened the regular season to 50 games. The league stabilized after that season for over a decade, until the lockout of 2011. It lasted for five months and cut the season to 66 games.
David Stern, you did good kid, but not really.
The Malice in the Palace
“The Malice in the Palace” may be the most infamous event in all of sporting history, or at least near the top. It was a live television broadcast of the Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons. The rivalry was hot and intense during the early 2000s. Both teams were stacked with “thug-like” players such as Ron Artest, Stephen Jackson, Ben Wallace and Rasheed Wallace.
With less than a minute left in the game, Artest fouled Ben Wallace hard for no specific reason leading to an altercation. Long story short, the lines between the players and fans disappeared, resulting in a massive brawl between players and the audience.
Massive suspensions were handed down by Stern and legal charges also stemmed from the incident. All players involved would later return to the NBA and go on to have successful careers, including two championships for Artest, now known as Metta World Peace. Stern, on the other hand, will always have the stain of the malice on his career.
The Tom Donaghy Scandal
Very few things can top four lockouts, “The Malice in the Palace” or a league owned team, but when gambling becomes involved, it usually takes the cake. Take gambling and add a referee, now we have a movie. Well, that is exactly what happened with the NBA and Tom Donaghy.
In 2007, Donaghy resigned from the NBA and admitted to betting on games he officiated. He later went on to accuse Stern and the league of some harsh allegations, including fixing games and extending playoff series.
None of Donaghy’s allegations were ever confirmed and no other officials were ever charged or prosecuted in the case. However, the scandal has forever tarnished the NBA and Stern’s legacy. I mean, look what gambling did to Pete Rose and his career. Nearly 40 years later and the guy still can’t get into the Hall of Fame. The gambling incident and Donaghy’s accusations will forever haunt Stern and his career as Commissioner for the National Basketball Association.