Is David Stern In “Car 54″?

I see where the NBA is playing exhibition games in China and that the league is thrilled by this step toward global presence. Lots of upbeat statements emanate from the league’s publicity mill. Meanwhile, here at home, the NBA Commissioner remains in retreat.

David Stern was humbled by the Tim Donaghy mess; please notice that the NBA has taken no major actions to try to prevent any such recurrence of scandal. The sporting public has not been privileged to be lectured at by David Stern since l’affaire Donaghy broke and so it is in that context that David Stern has not said or done much of anything regarding the Isiah Thomas/James Dolan/Madison Square Garden mess. A jury said that Thomas/Dolan et. al. were guilty of sexual harassment and creating a hostile working environment. David Stern – the same guy who is involved in decisions as to the material from which basketballs are made and mandates as to the type of attire that is acceptable for players to be seen wearing – has done nothing; the Viscount of Verisimilitude has gone into hibernation. So just to be sure you don’t forget the scope of David Stern’s actions, he’s the guy who:

    Took years to change the abominably stupid “illegal defense rule”.

    Altered the outcome of various playoff series with suspensions that need not have been imposed.

    Pretended – and continues to pretend – that declining TV ratings to the point of irrelevance do not matter to the league.

    Professed complete faith in a security staff and system that had no clue that one of its referees was involved with gamblers for about five years.

    Cannot figure out how to make the NBA look like the “good guy” after one of its teams loses out on a sexual harassment verdict.

Scott Ostler had an interesting item related to Isiah Thomas’ trial in one of his recent columns in the San Francisco Chronicle:

“Isiah Thomas said that his” head never left basketball” during the sexual harassment trial. Reader Steve Dunn notes, ‘Knick fans know Isiah’s head leaves basketball only when he’s coaching.’ “

Stay tuned for sexual harassment type items coming from the NBA. A young woman has just charged Jason Kidd with groping her in a “trendy Manhattan nightspot” repeatedly until she was forced to leave the club. The police are investigating. Kidd says there’s nothing to the woman’s allegations. Time will tell …

Since I’m on an NBA track here, let me give you four NBA players who are salary cap albatrosses around the necks of their teams. Feel free to add to this list and/or to suggest who the worst albatross on this list is.

    Stephon Marbury (Knicks): Last year, the self-proclaimed “Starbury” shot 41%. He makes $17M a year for doing that and for providing leadership. This is the “leader” who thinks Michael Vick is “misunderstood” and involved in nothing particularly bad. He was also one of the people cited as being part of the “hostile work environment” in the recent sexual harassment case involving the Knicks.

    Theo Ratliff (Timberwolves): It has been a long time since Ratliff has been able to stay healthy for a season; he’s going on 35 and was never much of an offensive threat to begin with. He makes $12M a year. If the Boston Celtics make it to the NBA Finals – or win it all – then Ratliff may be the Celtics’ MVP for the year because it was that $12M salary that allowed the Celtics to put together the package they did to get Kevin Garnett.

    Kenyon Martin (Nuggets): At $13M a year, he’s damaged goods with continuing knee “problems” and the same kinds of “attitude problems” that have followed him around for a while.

    Ben Wallace (Bulls): OK, maybe it’s too soon to come down on him like this but less than 7 points a game and 10 rebounds a game seems pretty paltry to me for a guy making $15M a year. I’ll admit he might be the guy to come off this list, but after his inaugural year in Chicago, I’d say he’s overpaid at the moment.

You could always put Kwame Brown in any list of overpaid NBA players no matter what his salary might be but at the moment he is actually a potentially valuable commodity to the Lakers – - albeit not an “on the court asset”. Kwame Brown’s contract is up at the end of this season so he is attractive as trade bait to a team looking to free up cap space for next year. Yes, that’s the reality of the great league over which David Stern has presided for a couple of decades…

We have not made it to Halloween yet and a coach in the NHL has already been fired. The Atlanta Thrashers started the season at 0-6 and they just fired Coach Bob Hartley. The GM has taken over coaching in an interim capacity and demonstrated his mastery of understatement with this comment:

“We felt after six games the direction we were going was not the direction we wanted to go.”

In case you have not been paying attention to the New England Patriots this year, check out three of their stats and what they project to over a 16 game schedule:

    They’ve scored 230 points so far; that projects to 614 points for the season. The NFL record for most points scored in a season is 556 (Vikes in 1998). At this rate, the Pats will break that record with a game still to play.

    Tom Brady has thrown 21 TDs in 6 games; that projects to 56 TDs for the season. Peyton Manning holds that record with 49 TD passes in a season. Brady would pass that record after 14 games.

    The Pats have gained 2587 yards on offense this year; that projects to 6900 yards for the season. The “Greatest Show on Turf” holds the NFL record here at 7,075 yards. The Pats are within shouting distance there.

Finally, here’s another comment from Scott Ostler in the San Francisco Chronicle regarding NBA matters:

“Milwaukee Bucks rookie Yi Jianlian issues a no-comment when asked about his age. His age! Guess there’s no point in asking him his opinion of China’s ruthless suppression of free speech and political dissent.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports…

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