Friday, March 11, 2011

Stan the Man

Following Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic’s 16th technical foul of the year in which he was suspended one game, head coach Stan Van Gundy let the NBA, in particular David Stern, have it.
“This is the system David Stern and his minions like," he said. "So that's the system you have. ... I certainly can't have an opinion because David Stern, like a lot of leaders we've seen in this world lately, don't really tolerate other people's opinion or free speech or anything. So I'm not really allowed to have an opinion. So it's up to him.  He decides and he likes the system he has."
Thursday while on the Colin Cowherd Show on ESPN David Stern responded in a way that a mafia boss or dictator would respond to a veiled threat or questioning of their power might invoke.
“I would render a guess ... that we won't be hearing from him for the rest of the season," he said when prodded by the host for a response. 
Now I’m just waiting for the severed horse head to appear in the bed of Van Gundy at some point.
And while we all wait and play the “oohh, he roasted you” game, what cannot be overlooked is the fact that Van Gundy was right.  David Stern is the judge and jury of the NBA.  For all the good he has done, I can think of just as many things he has done to ruin the game. 
I have thought Stern was a master at marketing the game for the worldwide audience, but if Boo Boo Stinky was the commissioner, he could have done the same thing.  The game is the cheapest to play, can be played anywhere and can be played by anyone.  Stern’s impact came from the fact that he averted major lockouts and has increased scoring making the league one that any potential player with marginal talent would have a role. 
What he fails to realize is that the league was made by Jordan, Erving, Magic, Bird, Barkley, Ewing, Wilkins, Thomas, Pippen, Bryant, Thomas Shaq and so on.  He just happened to be along for the ride.  He was a guy that came along and said, “what if we” when the game already was.  It was inevitable for the game to go global with the success of the Dream Team.  He was a hanger on.
What Stern has contributed to is the “And 1 Mixtapization” of the game.  He has allowed unprecedented amounts of scoring in the game in order to appease fans that are one-dimensional in their own right.  It has opened the game up to people who have no business in the game in the first place and allowed them to make money for shooting threes and not much else. 
I used to be a huge fan of the Knicks, Bulls, Pacers, Blazers, Lakers, Pistons, Celtics and Sonics because they played defense.  So what if the games ended in the 80s, they were battles and each possession counted.  There were fights in the NBA, but they paled in comparison to the chicanery that occurs in the NHL or the do-si-do-ing that goes on in MLB.  But somewhere along the line, stern and his cohorts decided that the league needed more excitement in order to bring in the half-assed fans.  The die-hard purists were left to shift through the rubble of what was their passion once the hand check was eliminated.  Soon thereafter the instant superstar was born and in came an influx of players that were crowned before they had even stepped foot in their respective gymnasiums.
Time after time the next Jordan was coming whether it was Felipe Lopez or Harold Miner.  And time after time they proved to be incapable to carry the torch prematurely given to them.  This was the game that once upon a time, kids like Marcus Camby, David Robinson and Grant Hill stayed in school to get ready for because they wanted to be on the big stage for more than just a paycheck.  They were doing it because they loved the game and wanted to make their mark; they wanted to be the best.
And now it has been reduced to a league of underachievers masquerading as stars only to flame out within the eclipse of the next big thing.  And the Hon. David Stern has made it so.  His penchant for offense at the expense of defense and fundamentals has been so blatant it is sickening.  His allowance of “superstars” to run amok and never get calls against them, but be the recipient of phantom calls (Dallas V. Heat) should have opened eyes.  And even the accusations of former referee Tim Donaghy that the game is in fact rigged cannot be simply dismissed because our own lying eyes tell us otherwise. 
And now that he has been called out by a coach for the exact things we have all been thinking and saying as we have watched game after game, shenanigan after shenanigan, should tell us something: Someone is fed up.  And as much as I dislike SVG, he totally speaks for me and I’m sure he speaks for a lot of us.  The game has become an unwatchable disgrace, an embarrassment of sorts.  And the reaction Stern gave to SVG’s comments just goes to show you that he has no interest in fixing the problems or even listening to the fans concerns or complaints.
At least with baseball the purists nearly always get their way.  With basketball it is as if the powers that be are looking for the next way to market and the next way to bring in fair-weather fans at the expense of loyalists.  Stern needs to go and if this wasn’t the proof anyone needed, I don’t know what will be.  You can’t have a league where the coaches can’t complain about the rules and when they, the commissioner threatens them with a throat slash.
If I liked my sports scripted and determined, I would watch the WWE.  At least then I wouldn’t feel cheated and the next move would be a folding chair from SVG across the back of Stern. 


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