Courtesy of MCT
When I heard that NBA commissioner David Stern vetoed a potential blockbuster deal that would have sent former New Orleans Hornets and all-star guard Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Lakers last season, I said a bunch of things that can’t be run in print.
Well, Christmas came early for me this season as Stern said Thursday he would retire as league commissioner, effective Feb. 1, 2014. The NBA’s deputy commissioner, Adam Silver, has been selected to take his place.
The decision to try and bar Paul from the Lakers, I thought, was the most blatant abuse of power I have ever seen by a professional commissioner. Los Angeles and the Hornets negotiated what they considered a fair deal and made it league official, only to be renounced hours later because one person, Stern, didn’t think it was “fair.”
I understand Stern found a loophole. At the time, New Orleans’ team was up for sale. Consequently, the Hornets fell under the ownership of Stern and the NBA. Stern said the league made a decision “in the best interest” of the Hornets.
Many people speculate that Stern’s decision was made due to enormous pressure from multiple owners, most notably Dan Gilbert of the Cleveland Cavaliers. But countless NBA analysts disagreed and felt the deal was more than adequate. Personally, I think most owners believed the league was getting too top-heavy with talent and smaller market teams would no longer be able to compete at a championship level.
Now, if you fast forward to present day, the Lakers look like the predominant favorite to represent the Western Conference and the only team who can challenge the defending NBA champion Miami Heat. But today, Lakers fans only have one question: What could have been?
Keep in mind, the proposed three-team deal that Stern vetoed only included current Los Angeles forward Pau Gasol and former Laker Lamar Odom in exchange for Paul.
Comparatively, the Aug. 10 four-team trade that sent former Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard to the Lakers only featured injury-prone center Andrew Bynum from the purple and gold. So conceivably, the Lakers could have assembled a Western Conference version of the Miami “Big Three” with Howard, Paul and guard Kobe Bryant.
As the New York Yankees of the NBA, the Lakers always seem to get who they want. Key acquisitions of longtime Phoenix Suns guard Steve Nash and Howard have made painful memories of the failed Paul deal disappear.
I’m not saying Stern robbed the Lakers of a title last season, but he sure didn’t help. Over the last few seasons, the Lakers have been torched by point guards and Paul is arguably the best at his position.
What I am saying is that I hope Silver leaves the dealing to the general managers. Stern caused more harm than good and devoted NBA fans are not sad he’s leaving. Here’s to a bright future and let’s hope we see a “Silver-lining” with the new commissioner.