CHICAGO — As we enter Day 104 of the 2011 NBA Lockout we know this: there is no new CBA, there is still a giant rift between players and owners and there is no first two weeks of the season anymore.
So now the question needs to be begged: Is David Stern the worst commissioner in all of sports?
It’s really too early to definitively say he is the worst, but that’s basically the same as stopping short of calling him the worst. And that’s the reality we face here as the NBA is falling apart before our eyes.
If you look at his resume, Stern has done some things right. He insituted a draft lottery which, to some, is a bit of a controversial idea of you’re a consipiracy theorist. But if you’re a realist then you see it as a good way to avoid the situation the NFL is in with teams supposedly tanking on purpose to draft Andrew Luck to their team.
Chalk the lottery up as a positive for Stern.
He also has circumstance on his side. Much like Bill Clinton has benefited from, Stern benefited from being the head guy at the right time. Clinton is viewed as a pretty good president (sex scandal aside) because the economy was booming and the nation was in a good place.
Stern also was the head guy and was viewed as not a bad guy when the Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan were carrying his league and guys like Patrick Ewing, Karl Malone, Charles Barkley and others were pulling their weight in terms of making the NBA a popular thing.
Stern gets a check for circumstance.
But let’s look at the red marks on Stern’s resume.
The glaring error in his tenure as commissioner, despite all the good he has done for the league, is the fact it has suffered a work stoppage twice on his watch.
In 1998-99, the league didn’t get going until early Feburary; Stern was the man in charge.
Now the first two weeks of the season are gone and Stern is having flashback terrors. Does all the good you’ve done as commissioner get washed out by the fact you’ve overseen two work stoppages that (assuming this ends up like the 98-99 strike) violently abbreviated your seasons?
It’s an open ended question that can’t be honestly answered now, tension and emotions are running way to high for an unbiased look at Stern’s career. This is a guy who took a league that was falling into thuggery very fast, and made it into a luxury product again (in some sorts). He endured Allen Iverson and the Malice at the Palace and created a league dominated by LeBron James and Kobe Bryant as faces. He saved the league once, but also has watched it helplessly burn twice now.
It’s too early to call it, but the question needs to be asked as to whether David Stern over stayed his welcome in the NBA or if this was supposed to happen to him. The question will be asked now and answered later: What is David Stern’s NBA legacy going to be?