|Same ol' Stern Thursday? (Getty Images)|
Thursday afternoon, the NBA held its annual Tip-Off Conference Call. As usual, David Stern and Adam Silver spoke with the media on the results of the owners' meetings in New York. On a day when it was announced that Stern would be stepping down effective Feb. 1, 2014, that Adam Silver would be taking over at that time pending agreement on a contract with the Board of Governors, that Peter Holt would be taking over as Chairman of the Board of Governors for Glen Taylor, and that the sale of the Memphis Grizzlies to businessman Robert Pera (and his super-friends) had been approved, there was a lot to discuss.
Here are the highlights:
- Stern talked extensively about the success the NBA has enjoyed the past year since the lockout, citing an 86-percent season ticket renewal rate and a record number of sponsorships the league is approaching. So things magically don't seem as bleak as they were made out to be during the lockout.
- Speaking of the lockout, Stern said that the changes to the CBA and revenue sharing agreement among the owners had resulted in the changes they wanted, and they were happy with how the initial returns have looked. He later mentioned that the length of contracts given out in free agency had reduced, and that the league believes that will spur higher competition.
- Stern was emphatic about not calling his transition retirement, but instead that he is "stepping down" from the office of the commissioner. Stern notes he'll continue to be involved. "Wherever I am, I will be available for any assignments, particularly in the international area."
- Stern flatly and emphatically denied any involvement in blocking or being involved in the decision by ESPN not to hire Stan Van Gundy, which had been a source of controversy over the past several weeks. Stern discussed how proud he is of former coaches being involved in the NBA's telecast "family."
- Regarding the flopping policy going into effect this season, Stern said that he didn't feel it is a "profound issue." Stern said the objective was to find a "middle ground" on enforcement.
- Another point of emphasis this season is to limit players to 90 seconds after introductions before tipoff. Stern wanted to make it clear that this is not a new rule, but instead an area of emphasis on an existing rule, and the objective is to limit the amount of time visiting players are standing around pre-game, as well as to make up for the increase in game-time due to instant replay. Stern also said that there wouldn't be crackdowns for being only five seconds over the 90-second limit.
- Stern described the system in place which has created so much star player movement to large markets as something that has always existed, going back to Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Stern described the system that provided Orlando with Howard in the first place, and five draft picks in return, as a "good system." I'm sure Orlando fans are reassured by this. "Since we have been in the business of sports," Stern said, "superstars ... have had the ability to have a say in where they went."
- On the subject of Sacramento, Stern both reasserted that a new arena must be built to resolve the situation, and lamented the situation and the league's dispute with ownership. "I think that there are many people who appreciate the fact that Sacramento was, is and can be a first-class NBA city," Stern said. The Commissioner advised Sacramento fans to "continue to support their team and then see what the next steps turn out to be."
- The league recently opened offices in Mumbai, India, another step in international expansion.
- Stern says he just wants people to say that "he steered the good ship NBA through sometimes choppy waters."