Blog Entry

Bryant Gumbel evokes slavery in David Stern rant

Posted on: October 19, 2011 2:16 am
Edited on: October 19, 2011 12:56 pm
Posted by Ben Golliverbryant-gumbel

NBA commissioner David Stern sat through more than 16 hours of labor negotiations on Tuesday and into Wednesday morning, but the harshest words aimed at him came from outside the bargaining room.

Emmy-winning television commentator Bryant Gumbel closed Tuesday night's episode of HBO's Real Sports with a pointed editorial aimed at Stern, whose league has made little progress in negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement since it locked out its players on July 1.

Gumbel's statement evoked slavery with reference to a "plantation," "boys" and "hired hands". Gumbel and a vast majority of NBA players are African-American. Stern is not. The following is a transcript of his editorial. 

"Finally, tonight, if the NBA lockout is going to be resolved any time soon, it seems likely to be done in spite of David Stern, not because of him," Gumbel said. "I say that because the NBA's infamously egocentric commissioner seemed more hellbent recently on demeaning the players rather than his game's labor impasse.

"How else to explain Stern's rants in recent days. To any and everyone who would listen, he has alternately knocked union leader Billy Hunter, said the players were getting inaccurate information, and started sounding 'Chicken Little' claims about what games might be lost if players didn't soon see things his way. 

"Stern's version of what has been going on behind closed doors has of course been disputed, but his efforts were typical of a commissioner who has always seemed eager to be viewed as some kind of modern plantation overseer, treating NBA men as if they were his boys. It's part of Stern's M.O., like his past self-serving edicts on dress code and the questioning of officials. His moves were intended to do little more than show how he's the one keeping the hired hands in their place. 

"Some will of course cringe at that characterization but Stern's disdain for the players is as palpable and pathetic as his motives are transparent. Yes, the NBA's business model is broken. But to fix it, maybe the league's commissioner should concern himself most with the solution and stop being part of the problem."

Here's the video of Bryant Gumbel's editorial against NBA commissioner David Stern.

These are not Gumbel's first controversial remarks concering racial issues.

In 2006, reports that Gumbel had harsh words for then NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue and then National Football League Players Association executive director Gene Upshaw.

"Before he cleans out his office, have Paul Tagliabue show you where he keeps Gene Upshaw's leash," Gumbel said. "By making the docile head of the players union his personal pet, your predecessor has kept the peace without giving players the kind of guarantees other pros take for granted. Try to make sure no one competent ever replaces Upshaw on your watch."

In reference to the 2006 Winter Olympics, reports that Gumbel said: "Try not to laugh when someone says these are the world’s greatest athletes, despite a paucity of blacks that makes the Winter Games look like a GOP convention."
Back in March, Minnesota Vikings All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson made a reference to slavery during the NFL's recent lockout.

"It's modern-day slavery, you know?" Peterson said. "People kind of laugh at that, but there are people working at regular jobs who get treated the same way, too." 

Hat tip: ProBasketballTalk

Since: Sep 30, 2006
Posted on: October 19, 2011 12:54 pm

Bryant Gumbel invokes slavery in David Stern rant

didn't Stern help save this league when he took over....he has helped turn around the league and should be applauded for those efforts...

Since: Mar 18, 2009
Posted on: October 19, 2011 12:48 pm

Bryant Gumbel invokes slavery in David Stern rant

There are many unfavorable analogies for Stern but this is way out of line. In the name of all those who actually did suffer as slaves, I would love to see this man spend a week as an actual slave with a real plantation owner and then see how many comparisons he draws.

Since: Sep 7, 2011
Posted on: October 19, 2011 12:46 pm

Bryant Gumbel invokes slavery in David Stern rant

Where did Gumbel refer refer to the players as slaves? This is being misstated. He said that stern has a plantation owner mentality. This is about Stern and his tactics and his view of his league. This has nothing to do with the players and how much money they make.

Since: Dec 2, 2008
Posted on: October 19, 2011 12:45 pm

Bryant Gumbel invokes slavery in David Stern rant

Hopefully the NBA has a permanent lockout.  I wouldn't miss it.  These comments just reinforce it.  Slavery, give me a break.  That's so much bs.  Can I be a slave for the NBA?  I will gladly go and I'll play for a lot less than these clowns do.  NBA is a joke anyway, college is so much better.  Screw the NBA, I hope the fans don't go back to it.

Since: Sep 7, 2011
Posted on: October 19, 2011 12:42 pm

Bryant Gumbel invokes slavery in David Stern rant

Does it not make you sick to hear these owners complain about money? This is a LOCKOUT not a strike. Ownership is complaining about money not the players.

Get a clue...... 

Since: Sep 7, 2011
Posted on: October 19, 2011 12:40 pm

Bryant Gumbel invokes slavery in David Stern rant

I hear a lot of people on here making comments about how much they make in relation to superstar athletes. This has no bearing at all on the conversation. You are not worth what these athletes are worth. This is not my valuation, this is the countries valuation of these players talents.  The market is there for these players to make millions and it is the masses, who are so jealous and angry at these athletes, that make this market possible.

Gumble did not call the players slaves. Listen to what he says. He says that Stern has a plantation owner's mentality. Don't put words in the mans mouth. I have to agree with the characterization of Stern's approach to being a commissioner.  These business men (owners) are champions of capitalism. they would never allow anyone to put a cap on how much their franchises can earn, or how much their businesses outside of their franchises could make. Why is it ok to put a cap on how much these players can make. The whole concept runs contrary to the economic system that made these owners millionaires and billionaires. these athletes aren't taking money that isn't there.

There are almost no professions in this country where a person gets "drafted" and sent to a part of the country he doesn't have a choice in picking. Then they are forced to stay for 6 years before they can have the choice to work for the franchise they choose.  If most of you would stop being blinded by the jealousy and just look at the reality of the situation you would begin to see the argument that is being made. Yes these athletes make millions, but what do you think the men that are cutting their checks make? Plenty. Now that they are hurting in the pocket because of poor decisions they made, they want to reach into labor's pockets and take that money back.

Finally, you mention 50%, which is not accurate. The owners take a over a billion off of the top and then want to split the pot 50/50. Which is not a 50% share to the players. This is the type of "spin" and inaccuracies that Stern is pushing through the media.  He wants to paint these athletes as greedy thugs.  The owners want to be able to draft a player, keep him in their uniform for 7 years, cap how much they can make while there is no cap on what the owners can make or sell their franchises for, and now want to reach into players pockets on contracts that have already been signed and recoup losses that have nothing to do with the players.

The players are not slaves and no one is saying that they are. But lets not pretend that the owners interest are aligned with anyone other then themselves. they are overpaid in a way that far exceeds these players, but the players and their representatives have done a poor job in the PR game... 

Since: Sep 15, 2006
Posted on: October 19, 2011 12:37 pm

Bryant Gumbel invokes slavery in David Stern rant

I will be the first oine to admit that David Stern is a total idiot who has absolutely no clue what he is doing...the NBA is quite likely the worst run organization in professional sports.  The records on his watch prove that...I hardly think he is racist...he is just trying to make this organization be profitable(however poorly).  For anyone to try and call these players(or any players in preoffesional sports in North America) is out of their mind...what they are is overpriced baby prima donna's who have no concept of what living and working in this country is all about.  They have no clue, life is hard...we all work hard and try to make ends meet and get our piece of the American Dream...I have a have a huge problem with any of these players complaining about money when a large percentage of them make more money for 6 months "work" than most of will see in our entire lives.  Go out, play the game...if you think you are being mistreated, get a job and see what life is really like.  P.S.  Bryant Gumbel is an idiot.  Always has been...

Since: Dec 9, 2010
Posted on: October 19, 2011 12:36 pm

Bryant Gumbel invokes slavery in David Stern rant

This is why I would rather watch paint dry than Gumbel's show. 

Since: Apr 4, 2011
Posted on: October 19, 2011 12:36 pm

Bryant Gumbel invokes slavery in David Stern rant

Well said...

It makes my skin crawl when I hear these guys complaining about how much money they make and getting their cut.  Maybe they will have to sell one of their 5 cars or 3 houses.  And when I say 'these guys' I mean ALL NBA, white, French, Chinese etc etc etc... 

Since: Feb 28, 2011
Posted on: October 19, 2011 12:35 pm

Bryant Gumbel invokes slavery in David Stern rant


I get you. I think we are on the same page. I agree the that the salaries and  caps have to be negotiated, but can be done. I know different teams just can't collude to fix salaries. I am talking about negotiations as you mention. I get the point on the buildings, but if I bought a business for 400 million and it was now worth 300 million because of building or other materials depreciation, then I may have a case. Just to say the franchise is worth less, I agree, that is bogus. I would want to see physical proof of asset depreciation. I guess my view of the NBA is wrong. I look at it as one large company with many franchises, like McDonalds or Pizza Hut. I may be wrong on that point and if they are viewed as 30 different companies, then my argument is wrong.

Personally, I do not like Gumbel and think he is racist, but I will also say I do not like David Stern anymore and I personally don't care much for the NBA. I am not biases as to which side wins. I just don't like anyone referring to players who average 5 million a year to slaves. That is a slap in the face to anyone who was a slave or every discriminated against because of race or gender. These players have more freedom than any average person on this planet. They don't have to play for an NBA franchise. They can play in Europe or get a "normal" job. No one is beating them with a whip to make millions.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or