- He has driven the NBA's popularity into the ground - That's right: for those who don't know, David Stern is the "brains" (loosely-used-term alert!) behind the National Basketball Association. Remember that league that was so popular in the 80's and 90's? The one with Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, and Michael Jordan? Well Mr. Stern took over in 1984 and it only took about a decade for his tactics to start ruining things. We'll get into specifics later, my fellow readers. Just remember that in terms of TV ratings and fan attendance, the league has been in a steady decline since Jordan left in 1998.
Okay, back to the introduction. Let's just get this out of the way: I'm a HUGE basketball fan. Maybe it's because I grew up in Indiana, but I have pretty much loved watching and playing basketball since I was a kid. Even to this day I sometimes play twice a week (those 5th-graders never stand a chance), and I consider the college basketball season second only to the NFL in terms of sheer thrill. There was even a time when I loved the NBA and my Indiana Pacers! But Mr. Stern put an abrupt end to all of that (don't worry: we'll talk about that specific day later). So anyway, let's get back to the other reasons Stern sucks!
- He created the draft lottery - The NBA draft lottery is Stern's creepy Twilight baby, and it remains controversial to this day. Basically in almost all other sports the worst team the year before gets the first pick in the next draft, the second-worst team gets the second pick, etc. This makes sense because it helps bad teams get better quicker and leads to competitive balance, which makes the entire league better as a whole. So naturally Stern preferred that the NBA draft was left up to "chance" instead, thus leading to shenanigans like the large-market New York Knicks amazingly lucking into getting a great college player like Patrick Ewing. To be fair, they did spend the next 15 years realizing he was a championship-repellent on stilts, but I digress. The point is that the league's competitive balance started to erode in 1985 (the first year of the draft), and by the late-90's it was pretty much gone. Which leads us to:
- He has "favorites" - And by favorites, I mean "large-market teams" where his superstars can make him the most money. David Stern once famously claimed that his ideal NBA Finals match-up would be the Los Angeles Lakers versus...the Los Angeles Lakers. Did you know that it has been almost 30 years since David Stern took over, and only 8 different teams have won a championship in that time? EIGHT, people! And if you want to throw away the one year that the Dallas Mavericks won, that's SEVEN winning teams in almost three decades! Stop trying to figure out who the other 7 teams are (I promise I'll tell you at the bottom of this post) and listen to me! In a league of 30 teams, how are you going to keep fans interested if 75% of those teams can't win! Having my Pacers in that category is enough to make me want to start sniffing glue again.
- He rules with an iron fist - Mr. Stern is fond of handing out rash, often brutal punishments whenever he feels like it, and this doesn't bode well if you are one of his can't-win teams. Remember that specific day I mentioned earlier, when I lost all love and hope for my Pacers? That was November 19th, 2004, otherwise known as the Malice in the Palace, or simply, The Brawl. I'm not going to start an argument about blame: clearly several Pacers were off their rocker. But when it came time to hand out punishments, Stern doled out suspensions totaling 146 games: 137 games for Pacers players, 9 for Pistons players. Yes, you read that right. Now which team do you think was a favorite? I'll give you a hint: they rhyme with Fistin's. Suffice to say that it took more than a decade for the Pacers to become respectable again. For a more recent example of Stern's dictatorship, look no further than his recent fining of the San Antonio Spurs for resting players for one game before an important division match-up. That seems like a smart coaching move to me. Why fine the Spurs? Because the game the Spurs rested starters for (and still nearly won!) was against one of his favorites, the Miami Heat, so they are know $250,000 poorer. Plus everybody knows that Stern hates the Spurs, which is ironic because they are the one team who has won multiple championships in his tenure without his blessing. The Spurs are like George McFly to David Stern's Biff, and I love it!
- He's apparently a dick - Obviously I've never met the guy, but there's no shortage of literature from sportswriters, TV analysts, anonymous NBA employees, and nuns (okay I made that up) claiming that Stern carries an air of superiority and smugness that is second-to-none. Press him on an issue that he disagrees with and you're sure to get a staredown, snippy comeback, and possibly even an ended interview. The word on the street is that he has surrounded himself with "Yes-men" and cannot be convinced that he's wrong. Actually that sounds like my dream job...
- Finally, and most importantly, he looks like the Kermit the Frog -
Evil Kermit, of course
(For those of you who care, the eight teams who have won championships since 1984 are the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, Detroit Pistons, Chicago Bulls, Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs, Dallas Mavericks, and Miami Heat.)