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All Hail Chairman Stern

April 25, 2010

“When you start throwing one- and two-game suspensions in the threats, I think that means a lot to both ball clubs and to coaches. It seems awful heavy-handed to me, but David is one, he isn’t shy about being heavy-handed.” — Phil Jackson

Something is wrong in the world when I start agreeing with Phil Jackson, and David Stern made that happen with the following edict:

“We have coaches who will do whatever it takes to try to work them [referees] publicly. What that does is erode fan confidence…

Stern is just plain wrong. He is trying to convince the public that the only reason coaches complain about officiating is to manipulate. When an irate coach can’t keep from speaking (despite facing fines) following games, it’s generally because he had issues with the quality of officiating.

Furthermore, fans make up their own minds and see games the way they see games. They’re not going to change their minds just because of something a coach said (not to mention plenty of fans hate their own coaches and want them fired). Honestly, fans don’t even remember what coaches and players said the next day. It is the NBA Head Palace’s handling of officiating issues (sweeping them under the rug), its failure to take responsibility for and denial of officiating issues, and complete lack of transparency that has eroded fan confidence more than anything else.

If you have nothing to hide, and you have complete and full confidence in the professionalism and accuracy of your officials, why not let those involved in the game speak their minds? When there is no one on earth–not [involved] owners (those that pay for player salaries), not coaches and players (the people that there would not be a product without), and not fans (the ones paying for the product)–think that the officiating is good, don’t you think you might have a problem? The problem won’t go away just because you don’t let people talk about it.

[Our] coaches should be quiet because this is a good business that makes them good livings and supports a lot of families. And if they don’t like it, they should go get a job someplace else.

You’ve had your say; there’s no need to be an ass. Anyone might just as easily say, you’re making a good living because of the existence of coaches and players. If you don’t like complaints, why don’t you go find another job?

“And if someone wants to try me in the rest of this playoffs, you know, make my day. Because the game is too important and I don’t think that the people who trash it are respecting it, and we’ll do what we have to do-the players and coaches alike-because they give the impression to our fans that the referees somehow have an agenda.”

Mr. Stern, no one can take you seriously when you say things like “make my day.” Sweeping clear and obvious issues under the rug is hardly “respecting” the game either, and once again, fans already feel like referees have an agenda, and these sentiments are fed by the League Office’s consistent denial of officiating issues rather than anything coaches may say. Maybe you should delve into why fans feel that way, rather than fining coaches and players or threatening to suspend them.

(There’s no reason for me posting this picture, other than it looks like Jerry is saying, “F——“, which was pretty much my reaction when I read Stern’s quotes.)

Jerry is known to be fiery and has a reputation for getting technicals (though frequency is declining) and using colorful words when addressing referees during games, but you will never hear him criticizing them after games. In other words, he has way more self control than me. If I were in his shoes, I would be smiling really big during post-game interviews and saying in as sarcastic a voice as I can manage, “I thought the officials were absolutely perfect and on top of their game tonight. Especially in the third quarter when ___, man, they just definitely made the right call, regardless. It amazes me that Chairman Stern was able to train a crew of such highly intelligent, unbiased, agenda-free referees. And they look so good in their uniforms, too.” I’m actually quite surprised Phil Jackson has not yet done this.

P.S. Incidentally, isn’t Stern’s stance a violation of NBA coaches’ and players’ freedom of speech, as afforded to them by the Constitution?



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