My Beef With Stern Involves Preferential Treatment

By Gregory Moore
Updated: June 15, 2005

SAN ANTONIO � �Contrary to what may have been written, we’re delighted with the two teams in The Finals. We’ve got teams that have fought their way through here against different teams with different styles of play, and it’s great to have a defending champion defending it’s championship on the court, and the team that has someone like a Tim Duncan, which is a player that is not only one of the best in the league but may be one of the best of all time. Sort of in a soup that’s wonderfully spiced by the likes of Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli and the likes. So welcome to The Finals and we’re delighted to be here. We look forward to a very good series.� Those were the opening words to the media availability last weekend when the NBA Finals began here in San Antonio. I wanted everyone to read the statement by Commissioner David Stern because I have a beef with him, Russ Granik and the Los Angeles Lakers. More specifically I have a problem with the preferential treatment that the league allows some franchises to exercise while it tries to harness others. So why should anyone from San Antonio or Detroit care about the Phil Jackson press conference and/or the halftime interview that happened during the first game of the Finals? Because it is something that could have waited and not been in competition to the one game that the league has going. Instead Jackson�s hiring will be the talk of the weekend while the Spurs and Pistons try to give the viewing audience a worthwhile series.

I know that sometimes I bag on Bud Selig but there is one practice that he has held firm during the World Series. Selig makes sure that the only news in Major League Baseball is that involving the World Series. It would be nice if Commissioner Stern believed in such a policy because evidently we know that Mitch Kupchek and the Lakers have no regards for such protocol. Forget about the golfer who decided to diss his playing partner during a PGA event, the fact that the Lakers wanted to take a game day to make such announcement is utterly bush league in my opinion. Kupcheck�s comments to the Dan Patrick Show reiterates the fact that not only is this franchise full of the usual horse manure that has plagued it in recent years, but humility is something that nobody in that front office seems to have a grasp of.

STERN SHOULD BE TAKEN TO TASK FOR LETTING THIS HAPPEN From a pure public relations standpoint, one of the biggest reasons why I believe that Stern should be taken to task is because what viable reason for announcing that Jackson is once again the head coach of the Lakers is more paramount than game three of this series. What I would love to know is why the Lakers could not have waited until Friday to make the announcement. To understand why I am arguing such a stance on this issue, keep in mind that the Finals are played on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. There is a 24-hour window between the Sunday-Thursday game dates and a 48-hour window from Thursday to Sunday. Despite Kupchek�s weak comments that they have a business to run and that this was a business decision, delaying their announcement until a �day off� during the series would not have hurt that deal one bit.

Let me go one-step further in my argument why the Lakers could have waited and why Stern is the blame for this scenario now. If baseball can have a moratorium on certain business transactions during the World Series (i.e. player and/or coaching moves) then Stern could have implemented that same rule. If this rule were in effect then sports talk shows would have spent more time talking about how the Detroit Pistons manned up and showed that they are indeed a semblance of the team that won the Eastern Conference. If the moratorium were in effect, then the story would have been bigger than the impeding lockout. In other words the Finals would be all about the Finals and this story wouldn�t even be in any writer�s list of work to complete before the end of the week.

Now maybe I�m being a little bit of a pessimist in this process but I am firmly beginning to believe that the league has it�s few favorite franchises because they want those teams to be the �face� of the NBA. That means that franchises like San Antonio and Detroit won�t get the same type of treatment that the Lakers get or what the Cleveland Cavaliers receive. The small market teams are not going get the preferential treatment of announcing business transactions like the Lakers pulled off or how the Cavaliers have conducted themselves.

Am I being paranoid on this topic? Possibly but I have yet to hear a logical answer to why the Lakers took game three to make the announcement. There probably wouldn�t be an answer from the league on why this was allowed to happen. Too bad because I think Spurs� and Pistons� fans deserve an answer because after all these are the two teams that have the whole world watching the NBA Finals. These are the two teams that should be in the spotlight; not a Lakers franchise that may not even sniff another Finals in the near distant future.

But remember Stern said that he was proud to have these two franchises, the Spurs and Pistons, representing the league in this series of all series. Funny how he allowed a franchise in the #2 media market to sort of derail the grandiose storylines that this series was presenting after Detroit�s win on Tuesday night.

BITCHING AND WHINING � PART II Okay game three proved to be a pretty worthwhile game to watch but the griping from fans still remains. This time it�s from the other side of the aisle. It seems that many San Antonio Spurs fans are feeling like how Detroit Pistons fans felt just a few days ago. Now I know that everyone thinks their favorite team is going to bring home the gold but to actually believe that the Spurs were going to just waltz into the Palace at Auburn Hills, then I�m going to say it to every myopic Spurs fan who had the crazy thought in their heads: are u nuts?

Bitching and whining about no calls, bad calls and wrong calls is something that is going to be a part of sports until we all leave the planet in some shape form or fashion but it is really funny to listen to BOTH fan bases start blaming outside forces for the demise of a loss instead of blaming the very players who they root for when they make mistakes.