NBA Lockout: What Are We Going to Do Without Pro Basketball?

At the risk of sounding like a grumpy old man, let me clear something up: Hampton wasn't claiming that Jordan, Bird, and Magic once shared the same lawyer. (Though that would be kind of amazing.) He was talking about Stern, a Columbia law school grad who served as the NBA's general counsel before becoming the longest-running commissioner in league history.

Lately, I've been wondering if his tenure has gone on too long. Much like the staler-than-communion-wafers Real Housewives of Orange County franchise. (There: a somewhat more contemporary reference. Is that better?)

Look, I have to give Stern credit: He built on the foundation laid by his underrated predecessor, Larry O'Brien, and played a major role in making the NBA the successful, mega-bucks, multinational enterprise it is today. That said, something seems increasingly amiss, with Stern coming across less as an elder pro basketball statesman than an aging mafia don—petty, vindictive and obsessed with power for power's sake.

Take the league's oddly draconian, possibly-Republican-pollster-driven adoption of a sideline dress code. Or its ill-fated attempt to shove a new, universally-loathed synthetic ball down players' collective throats. Or its Oz-like, ignore-the-man-behind-the-curtain response to its self-commissioned, post-Donaghy scandal Pedowitz report, in which the NBA discovered that nearly all of its referees had violated anti-gambling rules ... and responded by changing said rules. None of that happens without the direct or tacit approval of Stern—the same Stern whom half the league seems scared to death of crossing; who silences public dissent with the subtlety of the Chinese Army at Tiananmen Square; who lets definite snake/ probable monorail salesman Clay Bennett swipe a franchise from Seattle with nary a disapproving peep; who hammers players for offensive speech but istotally cool with Donald Sterling, who possibly makes more money than any of the NBA's players, despite having no discernable jump shot to speak of; who in advance of the current labor-management dispute reportedly told a room of NBA All-Stars that he "knows where the [league's] bodies are buried" because he buried some of them himself; whose owner-backed insistence on reducing the players' slice of the league's over economic pie - instead of adopting additional revenue sharing—is the driving force behind the lockout in first place.

As long as Stern is in charge, I'm afraid the need for alternate hoops fix will prove inevitable. So, Emma, to answer your question: I'll be playing "NBA 2K12"—featuring Magic, Bird, and Jordan, plus a bunch of other pre-Millennial icons.

Jake, do you think the upcoming NBA season is doomed? If so, are you looking for an alternative?


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Patrick Hruby, Jake Simpson, and Hampton Stevens 

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