David Stern Rumors
Williams likes to think former NBA commissioner David Stern changed the rules in his mind before he’d even shook hands with the Magic exec after winning a second consecutive season. “I had to bite my lip after we won because nobody in that room was happy for us. Nobody,” Williams remembered. “You watch the video; you’ll see shock but no dancing. I tiptoed up to the stage, but David Stern was not happy to see me. He was not happy. (He was) like, ‘How did this happen to my lottery? This is not why we put it in there.’”
Unlike David Stern, who said “I don’t think we can go back” to Vancouver 10 years ago, Silver provided hope for local hoops fans. “In retrospect, I wish we had a team in Vancouver right now. I think Canada could handle two NBA teams,” said Silver. “I share David’s sentiment that we do have regret. I think we were a bit ahead of our time. There was a moment in the league where prospects seemed down in terms of the team. Attendance was down, ratings were down. I understood from an economic standpoint why the then-team owner (Michael Heisley) wanted to move the team.”
Long before Kaepernick and Reid, two of the NBA’s all-time best shooters, Craig Hodges and Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, were frozen out by the NBA for their activism in the 1990s. “I played in the Stern era,” Thomas said. “Adam Silver is not against it, not moving backwards. It’s completely different. Remember that Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf and Craig Hodges happened during the Stern era.”
McIlvaine: We once kicked Jack Haley out of a meeting because he had recently retired. He was there as a mole. Years later he told me that ownership had somebody listening on every call and knew exactly what we were strategizing. I don’t know whether this was Jack blowing smoke, but there were certain players that were sympathetic to owners. Hunter: Stern would always tell me, “I got my people everywhere. I know as much about what you’re doing as you know. I got my eyes and ears.” Clearly, I think there was someone amongst the players, but there also may have been people within my office and on staff. I have my suspicions, but I’m not going to disclose that.
Kessler: David is bombastic and volatile and could blow up in the meeting at any time against anybody including his own owners, own lawyers, players, the other side, me, Billy, Patrick Ewing, anybody. He had a very tempestuous negotiating style. Quinn: His way of negotiating is more or less yelling. Kessler: Players got to see that side of David that was digging and belittling and shouting and boisterous. Kauffman: He wasn’t Easy Dave anymore.
Hunter: He talked to me for like 15-20 minutes. Before we hung up, he said, “Promise me you’ll call David Stern.” After he hung up, two minutes later I called David. I remember that when I called David that he was anticipating my call. I don’t know if Leonard had called beforehand and informed him that I would be calling; I didn’t leave Leonard with the impression that I would call. But David was receptive and said he wanted to get together and he was hopeful we could work something out.
Speaking on the Bloomberg Business of Sports podcast, Stern said that public criticism, particularly from President Donald Trump, may be weighing on National Football League owners. It’s different for the National Basketball Association, which has made a priority of letting players promote and express themselves, he said.