"I have the technology. I can rebuild you... Make you younger... faster...stronger, better dressed.
Picture David Stern saying that to all of the owners in a private NBA meeting held 1000 ft below the Earth in an abandoned mine shaft...
After watching the 2009 Allstar Weekend in it's entireity one thing is for sure, David Stern is the best commissoner in professional sports. Prior to last weekend I would have given that honor to Roger Goodell, but Stern has taken the NBA to new heights, the man is a magician.
Let's just run through some of the things the sorcerer Stern has made disappear....
1. Jordan's alleged gambling problems leading to the death of his father---This story broke a long time ago but was squashed and dismissed promptly. (In my opinion..rightly so. Anyone who says anything inflammatory about MJ should be beaten with a twig, stripped naked and knee capped in public. )
2. The 98-99 Lockout---Somehow the NBA recovered to schedule at least 50 games and even have a Finals, which San Antonio won...And yes contrary to the biased beliefs of a certain UBC Thunderbird...There should be an asterix Casey.
3. Tim Donaghy---Most people don't even know who this guy is. Now that's amazing. How Stern was able to sweep this mess under the rug is simply astonishing, I mean who really knows how deep that thing went and how many officials were really involved? This single incident would have probably been enough to collapse the NHL! Stern damn near handled it on speaker phone.
If you don't know what I'm talking about, that just proves my point.
4. Shaq and Kobe feud---These two should have went down like Jordan and Pippen. Right now they look more like Zeke and Laimbeer...Okay a little harsh, but they wrecked a dynasty over egos. Or did they? Apparently it was all a show... Puhleeeeeze! The real show was at the allstar game when these two looked like they were childhood buddies back on the Showtime Lakers. Im sure it's all squashed now, Shaq's way too cool to hold grudges I'm sure. Co Mvp's...Nice touch Stern. The last memory anyone will have is Shaq and Kobe smiling together holding the Co MVP trophy... That and Shaq's Jabowakee dance. In one word. Amazing.
5. NBA's thug image---A dress code and age restriction later and now you got guys dressed to impress, classy, stylish and your superstar Le Bron James on the cover of GQ. Shit, even AI cut his locks!
The list goes on and on. Stern has the NBA looking like a non-profit philanthropists club with the amount of work and promotion that the NBA CARES does. But perhaps Stern's biggest accomplishment in moving the game forward is the NBA's global expansion. Just looking at the International representation in the allstar game this year compared to just a decade ago and the difference is huge. With plans to expand and market in India and other international venues the sport might just be hitting it's stride.
Of course Stern can't take all the credit. The players deserve alot. For one, the league is finally as talented as it's ever been since the Magic, Jordan, Bird and late Dr. J era. It's a younger league too, which allows rookies to make major contributions and become stars early if not right away.
There's are so many good young players, guys that the phrase "future Hall of Famer" is a sneeze away from being uttered. It's great, it's refreshing and it's good for the youth.
I've always said that I feel sorry for the youth that didn't get to watch Isaiah, MJ, Magic and Bird...I always felt like they missed a major piece of how the game was and is supposed to be played. Well, I honestly believe now, with guys like LBJ, Wade, Kobe, Chris Paul and others the game is once again in great hands...or should I say... in the hands of Greatness.
Now, if David Stern could only figure out how to get the NBA back on NBC... Just let me hear that music one more time!