Since leaving his post in 2014, David Stern hasn’t often spoken publicly and candidly about the major issues and controversies he dealt with during his long tenure as the NBA’s commissioner. However, Stern opened up about a few of those topics during a conversation with Chris Ballard of SI.com.
Stern, who insists he stepped down as NBA commissioner rather than retiring, continues to stay peripherally involved in the sport of basketball, investing in gambling, wearables, and streaming apps.
Speaking to Ballard, he explained why he’s now enthusiastic about sports gambling after being opposed to it during his time as commissioner, and shared his opinion on a few NBA stories, past and present. The piece is worth checking out in full, but here are a few highlights from Stern:
On why he’s no longer opposed to legalized gambling on the NBA:
“I always said the reason we don’t want to have gambling is because we don’t want Junior going to the game and coming away disappointed because the home team won but they didn’t cover. But as soon as they allowed daily fantasy, I said that’s it, there’s no sense in having daily fantasy and not being in favor of betting — especially when you add in the fact that so much of it is already done offshore illegally and lining the coffers of some people you don’t know.”
On the Warriors’ current dynasty, and whether it’s bad for basketball:
“It’s great. They’ve got a great team. Interesting players, a dynamic coach, owners that demonstrate that they care, they’re about to open up a billion-dollar-plus building…. I think it’s only good. And I don’t believe in the debate about super-teams, because when I started there were two super-teams: the Celtics and Lakers…. Look at the attendance and the ratings and the product sales. We’re the most metricized business there is, and all signs are positive.”
On his decision not to approve the Chris Paul-to-the-Lakers trade when he was serving as New Orleans’ de facto owner in 2011:
“I did it because I was protecting the then Hornets…. To this day everyone always asks me, ‘Well, why did you keep Chris Paul from going to the Lakers?’ I didn’t keep him. I didn’t approve the trade. No team sells or trades a future Hall-of-Famer without the owner signing off, and I was the owner’s rep. But I wasn’t going to hand up [New Orleans GM] Dell Demps.”
More on the failed Paul trade with the Lakers, and the Clippers deal he eventually approved:
“I didn’t do a great job of explaining it at the time. There was a trade that Dell Demps wanted us to approve and I said heck no, but he had told [Rockets GM] Daryl Morey and [then-Lakers GM] Mitch Kupchak he had authority to do it and he didn’t. I said no. We just settled a lockout and you want me to approve a basketball trade?
“[Demps] had agreed to [trade Paul to the Lakers for] Kevin Martin and Luis Scola or something, and I said we can do better than that…. And the next trade was [to the Clippers for] Eric Gordon and Al-Farouq Aminu and what we thought was a really great draft pick, the 10th pick, which turned out to be Austin Rivers. At least those three and someone else [center Chris Kaman]. But Dell Demps is a lousy general manager and none of those players are currently with the team anymore, and he may lose Anthony Davis.”