David Stern, Commissioner
National Basketball Association
Last week you issued a statement apologizing to fans for something you didn’t do. Since you did that I’m hoping that you’ll read a letter from a NBA fan of more than 20 years and take it to heart. I want to thank you for the decades of service you’ve done for the game of basketball. Since joining the NBA in 1978 and becoming its commissioner in 1984, the association and basketball itself is in a much better place. The ways in which the game has expanded and grown under your watch are too numerous to list in this letter. Of course, you don’t need to be reminded of your accomplishments. You’ve had a Hall of Fame worthy career and will leave behind a legacy that anyone can be proud of.
That being said, Davey Boy, it’s past time for you hang it at all up and enjoy the fruits of your labor. I know it wouldn’t be easy for you, but let Adam Silver be the face of the league office. Let him have the final say on all league decisions, issue all the public statements, etc. You’ve groomed him and he’s ready. If he wasn’t ready for the job, you wouldn’t have named him your successor when you announced your retirement 15 months in advance. Speaking of which, was that announcement really necessary? I guess in your narcissistic mind it was so people could feed your ego and pat you on the back as you to take the scenic route riding off into the sunset.
Please, Dave, take a backseat before you further tarnish your legacy. I know you enjoy playing the villain and all, but pretty soon people are going to completely forget all the good you’ve done for basketball. All they’re going to remember is nasty, dictator type action you’ve taken lately. Here’s a quick refresher course so you know exactly what it is I’m talking about.
Last summer, you locked out your players over a labor dispute. You negotiated that lockout brilliantly, outmaneuvering the dysfunctional players’ union at every step. But, you didn’t look good doing so. You work for a bunch of greedy owners and you got them an extremely favorable deal. What you failed to do was issue a sincere apology to both fans of the NBA and the hundreds (or thousands) of people who are directly and indirectly employed by the league. Then, only a few hours after the lockout ended, you vetoed a blockbuster trade for “basketball reasons”. This didn’t go over well at all since it really had no precedent. People weren’t sure if you were acting as NBA Commissioner or owner of the Hornets. The latter would’ve represented a conflict of interest. The fallout from your veto was deep, but I’ll try to put it shortly – Lamar Odom hasn’t been the same since.
With the start of this season you went back to your villainous ways. As I previously mentioned, you prematurely announced your intentions to retire on your 30th anniversary. It was implied that you prevented Stan Van Gundy from getting a job with ESPN simply because you didn’t like some of the things he said about you while he coached the Orlando Magic. Not that you care, but he would’ve been great at that job. Since that wasn’t enough fodder for those that dislike you, you decided to fine the San Antonio Spurs, one of the best organizations in your league for the last 15 years, for breaking some unwritten rule. I take that back. The Spurs broke the rule that says teams have to notify the league, the media and their opposition about injured players. That violation was worth a $250,000 fine. Your statements both before and after the fine was levied led to a lot of questions of and could potentially open up a can of worms for Adam Silver to address after you’ve retired. My question for you is this – I thought the teams in the NBA were losing money? That’s what you were saying during the lockout. Players’ salaries and their share of basketball related income were too high and teams were losing money. If that’s true, can a small market team like the Spurs afford the 1% fine you gave them?
Davey Boy, you do have one final piece of business to address before you retire. That is the rules regarding intentional fouls or Hack-a-Shaq. Coaches have employed a sound strategy of intentionally fouling notoriously bad free throw shooters to improve their team’s chances of winning any given game. While it may help a team win, it hurts the entertainment value of your product and makes it less watchable. When Shaquille O’Neal, whom the strategy is named for, was playing you partially fixed this and you’ve stated that you would like to fully correct this. Speaking for fans of the NBA worldwide, I wholeheartedly support any attempt you and the rules committee make to fix this. You take care of this, Mr. Stern, and I guarantee that everyone will be grateful for it. You can ride off into the sunset a hero instead of the villain.