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Stern Excited For NBA Future

by Ryan Wilson on June 13, 2012 in Mavs 09 comments

Commissioner David Stern believes the NBA is need of some tweaking even after following the black eye of the lockout with a better-than-expected regular season.

The first forum for change will come next Monday, when the competition committee will discuss ways to try and eliminate flopping for the sake of drawing a foul and to consider whether to expand instant replay.

“Flopping almost doesn’t do it justice,” Stern said Tuesday just prior to the start of the NBA Finals. “Trickery. Deceit designed to cause the game to be decided other than on its merits. We’ll be looking at that.

“We’ll be looking at a number of things that make it easier for us to say to our fans what we all know to be true: Our referees want to get everything right.”

Stern celebrated success that was “better than we could have hoped for” out of a season that was in jeopardy of even happening and said fans showed their admiration for the league in record numbers.

It concludes with a marquee matchup in the Finals, pitting three-time MVP LeBron James and Miami against three-time scoring champion Kevin Durant and Oklahoma City.

“It’s really very exciting, and it’s going to be, we think, a great matchup, and America is very interested in getting to it,” Stern said.

So, what more could Stern hope for?

Well, there are still some remnants of the labor dispute — so-called “B-list” items that still must be taken up. Deputy commissioner Adam Silver said that won’t take place until after the finals.

Stern also wants to discuss whether NBA players should continue to play in the Olympics or if there should be an age cutoff. He admits the “Dream Team” that won gold in the 1992 Barcelona Games and helped grow the game globally was a good move, but he sees merit in questions raised by often-controversial Dallas owner Mark Cuban and his peers about their players risking injury in the process.

“Usually when Mark says something, I try to go the other way,” Stern joked, “but actually when he is right about something — he may actually be right and here I think he actually has a point. I really do.”

There are also decisions to be made after the Memphis Grizzlies found a buyer this week, now that Sacramento’s plan for a new arena to keep the Kings fell through and as Seattle continues to pursue a team to replace the SuperSonics.

Stern said the league would have to go through the “somewhat boring” process of gathering facts to determine whether the board of governors should approve the sale of the Grizzlies to a group led by 34-year-old California billionaire Robert J. Pera.

That wrangling is made somewhat more interesting since the last time majority owner Michael Heisley tried to sell the team — in 2006 to a group headed by Christian Laettner – the deal was not approved.

Pera “has been a successful entrepreneur and he has a few dollars, a few hundred million dollars, whatever the number is, and I have heard that he’s a huge fan,” Stern said. “He reminds me a little bit of (Portland owner) Paul Allen, who when he came into the league used to drive around in his car with a basketball in the trunk and stop if he thought he could get a good game.”

Stern complimented Heisley for staying the course through tough economic times to keep the team in Memphis, where it relocated from Vancouver in 2001, and expressed hope the franchise could stay put.

“The best way to kill that conversation for the team to be supported by the community. I’m positive that the community is going to rally around the next ownership,” Stern said. “They’ve got a great building, they’ve got a really good team.”

The issue in Sacramento, as it was in Seattle, is the lack of what the NBA considers an adequate arena. Stern said he believes the team will continue, for now, to play at aging Power Balance Pavilion after the Maloof family’s ownership group balked at plans for a new arena.

“That’s their prerogative. As long as it stands and passes the fire code, I think it’s been a terrific place for the fans of Sacramento,” Stern said, not exactly giving his seal of approval.

“I think if you ask the fans, they’d say it’s better there than no place. I’ll say it again: The fans of Sacramento, the businesses of Sacramento, the city of Sacramento have been great partners of the NBA.”

As for Seattle, Stern said he met Monday with mayor Mike McGinn and was encouraged by the interest from the city, which lost the Sonics to Oklahoma City in 2008.

“We’re just delighted that the mayor is interested, that there’s considering legislation and that somebody wants an NBA team,” Stern said.

“We’re not planning to expand and we don’t have a lot of teams available, to say the least.”
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press

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Vets in Olympics? Maybe Not

by Ryan Wilson on May 31, 2012 in Mavs 09 comments

David Stern wants to take a closer look at flopping and referees to be able to take a second look at all flagrant fouls.

And the NBA commissioner isn’t sure he wants to see his veteran players in the Olympics anymore.

Stern and deputy commissioner Adam Silver said Wednesday the league is committed to sending top players to the Olympics only through London, and then wants to look into saving them just for the world basketball championship and having the Olympics reserved for those 23 and under, as soccer does.

That discussion will happen later with FIBA, basketball’s world governing body. First, Stern has some changes he wants to talk over with the recently changed competition committee.

He has previously urged a crackdown on flopping, the art of players falling down to make officials believe they were fouled. He called for a “not instant, but thorough review.”

“I think we are going to approach something that many tell me is impossible, which is deciding whether someone was acting or was actually, and thereby tending, intending to trick the fans, and the referees; or, whether there was a legitimate reason for that particular person to go sprawling,” Stern said. “And then the question is, what to do in that case, and that’s the kind of discussion that I look forward to having with the committee.”

Referees can currently only review the more severe flagrant-2 fouls, to decide if they were indeed worthy of an automatic ejection or should be downgraded to a level 1. The issue came up during the Miami-Indiana series, when a flagrant against the Heat’s Udonis Haslemappeared to fit the criteria of a 2 — and was upgraded to that the next day by the league office — but was only ruled a 1 on the floor and officials had no ability to look at it again.

“I think that we ought to have video review of flagrant ones and twos, and that’s something that the committee should look at,” Stern said.

Stern said he also wants an end to defensive basket interference.

“I happen to be a fan of the elimination of basket interference,” Stern said of the rule that prohibits offensive players from touching the ball while it is in the area above the rim. “I think it’s one of those plays that if you look at it, and if you watch the number of times that players either do or don’t touch the ball, it really puts the referees in a very uncomfortable position, because even on replay, I’m not sure you can get it right. …

“I look at that together with video replay where we have to continue on our march, which has been pretty embracing to expand the areas in which we use instant replay. Those are two areas.”

The biggest change could be the look of the Olympic teams in 2016. NBA players began competing in 1992 in Barcelona, with the famed U.S. team of Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and the rest of a squad that was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame two years ago.

“It’s the 20th anniversary of Barcelona, where the only Dream Team that I ever celebrated played,” Stern said.

This year’s U.S. team could include the likes of LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, but it would be time for the younger guys to take over if the change that Stern and Silver are warming to was enacted.

“We think international soccer has an excellent model and in the case of soccer, of course, there’s the World Cup of football, which is the biggest sporting event in the world every four years, and then in the off years, for the World Cup, they play, in essence, with some exceptions, a 23-and-under competition at the Olympics,” Silver said.

“And there’s a recognition certainly Mark Cuban, other owners have raised repeatedly the issue of our players playing in essence year round when you add the Olympics to our newly renamed world championship of basketball to our World Cup of Basketball. So when you have the Olympics, the World Cup of Basketball, we are taking a very close look at whether it makes sense from an NBA standpoint and a global basketball standpoint for the top players to be playing at that level on a year round basis, and somewhere (every) summer.

“So what we have told FIBA and what David has announced several times is that we are all in through the London Olympics, and then post-London Olympics, we want to step back together with USA Basketball, led by Jerry Colangelo and Patrick Baumann in FIBA, and the same way David talked about the new commission being a deliberate body, and I think together with the Competition Committee a committee of owners, we need to take a long-term view of what makes sense both for the NBA and for the game.”

Cuban, the Mavericks owner, has called allowing players to compete in international competitions “the biggest mistake the NBA makes.” Wednesday, Cuban said in an email to ESPNDallas.com’s Jeff Caplan that he’s glad the NBA is moving away from the Olympics.

“I have not talked to (Stern). Yes, I’m thrilled,” Cuban said. “More thrilled if the NBA starts its own world championship. This way the revenues from the tourney could be shared with players. When the revenues go to FIBA they get next to nothing. The teams get absolutely nothing.”

Colangelo has said he doesn’t want to discuss the proposal until after the Olympics, believing it is a distraction to bring it up now. It’s unknown how FIBA would feel, knowing how much basketball has grown in the 20 years NBA players started playing in the Olympics.

Stern also said the league is confident in the arbitration case the union brought against it involving the Bird rights of the Knicks’ Jeremy Lin and Steve Novak, among others.

According to the collective bargaining agreement, the player keeps his rights, which allow teams to exceed the salary cap to re-sign them, if he changed teams by trade. The players’ association argues that a player and his contract going from one team to another should also maintain his rights through a waiver claim.

“We believe that the position that we are espousing here is the one that the contract says is the one and that the arbitrator will confirm,” Stern said.

No new rules are certain. Even if the new 10-member competition committee recommends changes, owners must approve them, which is an uncertain process.

Stern’s backing alone may not be enough. Stern has said in recent weeks that he has wanted changes to goaltending and flopping for years, but has been unable to make it happen.

“We don’t have any expectations for the new committee,” Stern said.

“We think that by energizing the committee, it will come to meet, which it’s planning to do, next month, and go over a pretty broad agenda and see what has to be considered in the long term, and what should be considered in the short term; meaning for implementation next year,” Stern added.

He later added: “I think the competition committee is going to have its hands full, in a very positive way.”

The new committee is designed to be more nimble, with just 10 members: Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, Warriors owner Joe Lacob, Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo, Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak, Jazz GM Kevin O’Connor, Thundert GM Sam Presti, Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle, Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins, Celtics coach Doc Rivers and a player to be named by the National Basketball Players Association.

Information from TrueHoop’s Henry Abbott and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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Stern Aims To Address Flopping Issues

by Ryan Wilson on May 14, 2012 in Mavs 09 comments

It’s award season in the NBA but commissioner David Stern is concerned his league may be veering too close to handing out Oscars.

During Sunday’s Eastern Conference semifinal opener between the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers, Stern was asked what he thought about comments made by Pacers coach Frank Vogel in regards to what Vogel considered the Heat’s tendency to flop.

“(Vogel) didn’t have a beef; he was just manipulating the refereeing or trying to,” Stern said. “I would have fined him much more than our office did.”

While Stern chastised Vogel for on Thursday calling the Heat “the biggest flopping team in the NBA,” he did intimate that he sees merit in the sentiment.

“I think it’s time to look at (flopping) in a more serious way,” Stern said, “because it’s only designed to fool the referee. It’s not a legitimate play in my judgment. I recognize if there’s contact (you) move a little bit, but some of this is acting. We should give out Oscars rather than MVP trophies.”

Vogel is not the only person in the playoffs to call out an opponent for embellishing contact.

On Friday, Memphis Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph called his team’s first round opponents — the Los Angeles Clippers – the league’s biggest floppers “by far,” while being interviewed on ESPN Radio’s “The Doug Gottlieb Show.”

Randolph went so far as to single out Clippers stars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.

“It starts with Chris Paul, because Blake didn’t really used to flop like that, you know, last year,” Randolph said. “Reggie (Evans) flops, Reggie always flops. I think it started when Chris got (to the Clippers).”

While Stern didn’t call out any specific teams, he did say he has personally attempted to curb the flopping in the past.

“Some years ago I told the competition committee that we were going to start fining people for flopping, and then suspending. And I think they almost threw me out of the room (saying), ‘No, let it be.’ ”

Floppers may not receive any punishment but those that point the finger do, as Vogel had to enter his team’s second-round series with the Heat $15,000 lighter.

ESPN.com News Services

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