David Stern Rumors
In early 2001, Suns owner Jerry Colangelo approached then-commissioner David Stern at a meeting in New York with what he felt were urgent concerns for the league. The average score of an NBA game had dropped precipitously to its lowest point since 1955 (the 1998-99 lockout-shortened season excluded). The league was shooting 44.3 percent from the field, the lowest mark since 1969 (again, save 1998-99). “The game was getting very physical and bordering on truly ugly at times because of the amount of contact and banging,” Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle says. “There was a need for change.”
A topic that came up repeatedly in discussions with stakeholders was how the league has operated differently under Silver and vice president of operations Kiki VanDeWeghe than their predecessors. According to those who communicate with him regularly, VanDeWeghe especially tends to play peacemaker more often than Rod Thorn and Stu Jackson, who held the position under David Stern. While this is welcomed by some, it can leave a gray area on rule interpretations. It was one of the reasons the unions agreed to communicate directly with each other when needed, sources said.
Once upon a time, David Stern’s vision was to expand into Europe, Asia and Africa and make the game global. Now, the next horizon looks as clear and vibrant as a 4K screen: one of Silver’s missions is to bring the game to every fan’s fingertips via smartphones, consoles and computers and reach every corner of the planet as easily as Giannis Antetokounmpo reaches the rim in one stride from the free throw line. The NBA isn’t ready to start a franchise in Europe knowing how international travel would negatively impact players’ rest and health.
Tom Benson was the owner the NBA always wanted. “He wasn’t the only potential owner, but he was the perfect owner for the NBA and for New Orleans,” former NBA commissioner David Stern told The Advocate, just days after Benson’s death March 15.
Just as it appeared the NBA would depart New Orleans for the second time, Benson stepped in and provided a stable, local owner Stern could sell to the NBA’s Board of Governors. “There were a lot of people swirling around who desperately wanted to buy the team and move it,” Stern said. “But if there was an ideal or perfect candidate to own it, it was Tom Benson. He was always our target. We were fortunate he warmed to the idea.”
“Whether it’s (head of basketball operations) Mickey Loomis or (team president) Dennis Lauscha, we have a very good team in place there alongside Gayle,” Stern said. “Things are in place now. There’s a naming rights deal in place, and the sprucing up of the arena and the ticket sales and the sponsorships. It’s working. And there’s no reason it won’t continue to work.”