Commissioner duel: Stern shines
Thursday was a big night for commissioner. Bud Selig laid low, but the NFL’s Roger Goodell and the NBA’s David Stern were front and center, both standing up for their sport.
Goodell hosted the NFL Draft, a day or two after he ordered a six-game suspension for wayward Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. OU’s Gerald McCoy ended all talk that Goodell might have little support among the young players.
McCoy, drafted third overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, broke down in tears, celebrated with his family and finally took the stage. And bearhugged Goodell, setting off a series of hugs for the commissioner among drafted players.
A few minutes later, Stern conducted a press conference in Oklahoma City’s Ford Center and suddenly switched from his normally-jovial, intellectual self into a hard, well, stern leader. Stern grew clearly agitated when asked about the constant criticism of NBA referees by coaches and players.
“If someone wants to try me the rest of these playoffs, make my day,” Stern said of additional hefty fines or suspensions. “The game is too important. I don’t think people who trash it are respectful, and we’ll do what we have to do.”
The Lakers’ Phil Jackson and Orlando’s Stan Van Gundy have been fined this month for their harping about officiating.
“I wish I had it to do all over again,” Stern said. “Starting 20 years ago I’d be suspending Phil and Pat Riley for all the games they play in the media. You guys know our referees go out there and knock themselves out and do the best job they can.
“Our coaches do whatever they can to work them publicly. What that does is erode fan confidence and then we get some of the situations we have. Our coaches should be quiet because this is a good business that makes them good livings. If they don’t like it, they should go get a job somewhere else.”
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