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NBA ALL-STAR WEEKEND


February 25, 2012


Adam Silver

David Stern


ORLANDO, FLORIDA

COMMISSIONER DAVID STERN:¬† I'd like to thank everyone for being interested.¬† We're delighted to be in Orlando.¬† The basketball capital of the world right now, a perfect city to host an All‑Star Game with all things good, from the hotels to the golf courses to the spectacular Amway Center, there's no better building in the world, and we're delighted to be here.¬† To answer the question from Orlando, we look forward to coming back, but I can't say when.
I want to give a big thank you to the DeVos family for all they've meant to Orlando, starting with Rich DeVos.¬† I want to thank Alex Martins and the entire organization.¬† The team here at the Magic has done wonders working with us to make this a memorable All‑Star event.
The mayor, Buddy Dyer, of the City of Orlando, and Mayor Teresa Jacobs of Orange County, have been as supportive as possible, and those are thank yous that we have to give.
We've had a great All‑Star week so far.¬† In addition to last night's Celebrity Game and BBVA Rising Stars Competition, we had the two highest ratings in the history of those events, which is really keeping track with what's been going on this season in terms of all indexes are great with respect to attendance, with respect to ratings, with respect to sales, with respect to column inches, blogs, you name it, instant messaging, Tweets, likes and YouTube videos.¬† Everything is good.
But during this week, it's been particularly rewarding for us to see what's been going on with the NBA Cares Caravan.¬† The opportunity to work with the Coalition for the Homeless, to work with rebuilding the homes that we rebuilt yesterday, to work with KaBOOM! in rebuilding our playground, all kinds of very intense stuff that was joined in by our All‑Stars, by our players, by our Legends and by our guests who had the opportunity to be at the Technology Summit, which was one of our best, dealing with a subject near and dear to our hearts, which is the advances in digital that are going to bring us even closer to our fans.
And talking about fans, we have fans who are going to see this game in 215 countries and territories in 45 languages.¬† We expect over 1,800 media at All‑Star, 336 from international media with loads broadcasting live right here.¬† We expect 16 TV and radio networks here.
We've had a good season so far.¬† We would like it to have been a little longer, but it couldn't be.¬† We had this thing called a lockout.¬† But the recovery has been spectacular for us, and the results of the collective bargaining agreement with the expected leveling of the playing field, and the ability for well‑managed teams to both compete more than our teams have had the opportunity to compete, by some combination of the hugely enhanced revenue sharing and the much larger luxury tax.¬† So we're thinking that we're in for a treat over the years as this situation continues to improve.
And there are lots of story lines here, but you've all been writing about them differently and in good ways, with respect to who's going to win where, can the new teams do it, can some of the more veteran teams come back, and some great stories in cities that haven't always been the center of focus for great stories.  And that's been fun for us, too.
You know, I guess that's it.  Adam gave me the note cards.  I tried to get what he told me to say, and here we are.  We're happy to take any questions.

Q.  For teams that are caught in a Dwight Howard situation where they might have to trade him, would the League ever consider offering more compensation, say a top five draft pick?
COMMISSIONER DAVID STERN:  No.

Q.  How come?
COMMISSIONER DAVID STERN:  Why should we?

Q.  Well, because when you lose a marquee player, often you do not get value in return.
COMMISSIONER DAVID STERN:  Well, you have a choice.
We have a system that has a draft that basically tells a player where he's going to play in this league when he's drafted, and a further system that has a huge advantage to the team that has him, so that our players could play for seven years in the team they didn't choose.  And we think that's a system but not a prison.  And the idea for the team is to manage to a certain place, make it as easy as possible to retain the player, or have the ability to pay him considerably more, like $30 million more than any other team can pay him, or trade him and turn that into value.
We've had teams do that for a long time.¬† I'm old enough to remember Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul‑Jabbar and assorted others who desired to go someplace else.¬† But I'm sure Dwight will make a good and wise decision for him.

Q.  With regards to the Sacramento arena situation, can you tell us where you stand with that?
COMMISSIONER DAVID STERN:  Right.  I had a brief meeting today with Mayor (Kevin) Johnson, our respective staffs actually had a considerably longer meeting today.  We have several remaining points that will not necessarily be guaranteed to be bridged, but we're going to give it our best shot tomorrow at a meeting that's going to be attended by me and my colleagues from the NBA, by the mayor and his colleagues, by the Maloof family representatives, and by members of the Relocation Committee.  And we all consider ourselves to have a March 1 deadline to either come up with a financing plan and a critical path to the construction of the arena or not.

Q.  Just your take on Jeremy Lin, and are you surprised how big it's gotten?
COMMISSIONER DAVID STERN:¬† I have not much to add from what's been written, blogged, essayed, polemicized and generally covered in really a spectacular fashion, and some thoughtful and some more thoughtful.¬† I think it's great for the league and great for Jeremy, and my guess is that in the just‑concluded D‑League All‑Star Game, there were more scouts there than ever in the history of that game.¬† And we're proud of the D‑League, and we're actually proud of the NBA system, as well.
This is a gentleman who was brought to‑‑ we used to have a ten‑round draft. ¬†We've negotiated it down to two and left everything beyond the top 60 to how smart our teams want to be.¬† We had one team ‑‑ Dallas brought him to the Summer League, Golden State signed him, Houston gave him a shot, the Knicks gave him a shot, and then he got what every player wants to get, the opportunity.¬† It seems clear to me that there was extraordinary effort from the moment that Jeremy played in his first Summer League game to when he was given his opportunity, by him, to improve his skills, his physical training and the like.¬† And he wasn't really even the same player.¬† He was a much better player when he got his shot.
And he took advantage of it, and I think that's why it's a universal story of the underdog stepping forward.  We're proud of him, and we think it's a great story.
ADAM SILVER:¬† Just one thing to add on behalf of the NBA Development League:¬† But for the NBA Development League there would probably be no Jeremy Lin in the NBA right now.¬† He probably would have ended up playing in Europe or China, and the 16‑team Development League, D‑League, has come a long way, and presumably there are other Jeremy Lins out there, as well, being developed and playing in that league and who will one day hopefully see NBA time, as well.
 
Q.¬† The Timberwolves have had a lot of success so far this season and they've got three people here at the All‑Star Game.¬† Can you talk about the pulse around the league about what the team has been able to do?
COMMISSIONER DAVID STERN:¬† I kid Glen Taylor a lot about it, how much more fun it is to win than to lose.¬† But the story, their rookie, the story of Kevin Love, the All‑Star, the story of Ricky Rubio, who is turning a lot of heads.¬† I'm just an observer here, and I just think it's spectacular, when teams that have been down have the opportunity to turn it around, and not only turn it around, but give their cities, that have been long suffering and their fans very loyal, an extraordinary sense of hope.¬† I think Glen Taylor has been a great owner for us, and I think it's great that the city is getting what it deserves.

Q.  Can you give us an update of the ownership situation with the Hornets.  And can you confirm that the California group, are you in exclusive negotiations with Raj and Benson and that group?
COMMISSIONER DAVID STERN:  Actually I'd rather not confirm it, I'd rather just say that we are in discussions with one group.  We have another group in sort of second place, waiting to see how we do with group one.  We're optimistic that we will make a deal with group one.  And we're a little bit behind here because we haven't concluded our deal with the State yet, but I think it's moving closer day by day.  It's progressing well, but it's not finished.  We expect to have it finished, I'm told, in the next week or ten days, and that's the period of time that we would like to hopefully have this deal for the sale of the club come into much sharper focus.
But I'm optimistic that we will get it done.

Q.  I just was wondering with the number of injuries that have taken place so far this year, was there any thought given to reducing the number of regular season games and having teams the opportunity to go through full training camp and exhibition season?
COMMISSIONER DAVID STERN:¬† I don't understand the question, any thought to having it‑‑ now?
 
Q.  No, prior to the season starting.
COMMISSIONER DAVID STERN:  Oh, sure.

Q.  Given the number of injuries that have taken place.
COMMISSIONER DAVID STERN:  Well, the number of injuries, I must say, I've looked at it recently, and I would say that the number of injuries, as we get it from the reports of the trainers and the discussion with the doctors, is about the same as the same period last year.  The number of games lost is up slightly because teams are being smarter in their own ways, and competitively, by perhaps keeping a player out of a game that might have been an off day in past years.  So that's not the big factor to us right now.
And I must reiterate that when we were sitting over Thanksgiving weekend with the players, we sat together to say, how do we make this deal, and we agreed that we would sit there, if we possibly could, and make a deal that very day and night, and if we did that, we could play on Christmas Day, save the All‑Star Weekend, which would be a demonstration of our vitality and being, and have a 66‑game season.¬† And that was an agreement we made with our players, and it worked.
With the carrot of December, All‑Star, 66 games in front of us, we managed to have a season, and a pretty darned good one, as I've talked about in terms of its competitiveness and its enthusiastic reception by our fans.¬† So we're delighted with it, actually.

Q.  When is the last time that you spoke with investor Chris Hansen?  And do you have any thoughts about the potential return by the NBA to Seattle?
COMMISSIONER DAVID STERN:¬† No, my words get to be too freighted.¬† All I can say is that Chris, who I had met about a year ago, called us two weeks ago to tell us what was going to be announced that Thursday, about a letter laying out a plan, and we thought it was a‑‑ it sounded okay to us.¬† Go for it.¬† That's all.

Q.  In your mind is that a pathway for the NBA to return to Seattle?
COMMISSIONER DAVID STERN:¬† Well, I guess that would suggest that we have a team that we could put there, and right now what I'm working hard to do, in a perverse kind of a way, from Seattle's perspective, is to sell New Orleans to stay in New Orleans, and get a building for Sacramento that will enable the Kings to stay in Sacramento.¬† I can't say for sure it's a pathway, but I will say that the only way to have a team these days is to have a world‑class building.¬† That's why we're working so hard in Sacramento, and that's why actually the discussions with the State are about $50 to $60 million in Louisiana to upgrade the New Orleans arena.

Q.  Does group number two in the Hornets situation have anything to do with Seattle?
COMMISSIONER DAVID STERN:  No.

Q.  The City of Sacramento says that the focus of the talks right now are whether the Kings can provide the level of support that the City deems necessary to that project.  How confident are you that they'll be able to provide that level of support?
COMMISSIONER DAVID STERN:  Write this down:  "Life is a negotiation."
And in fairness to the Maloofs, if there's a deal, they are making a very substantial contribution.
 
Q.  I'll try to ask it a different way.  You mentioned that there are some remaining points that won't necessarily be bridged.  Are there challenges with the City of Sacramento?  Are you satisfied with what they've shown you so far, or is it the Maloofs you're concerned about?
COMMISSIONER DAVID STERN:¬† Actually I'm not concerned about either.¬† The Maloofs have stepped up, the City has stepped up.¬† We're having very intense conversations.¬† Sometimes the best‑intentioned and most fervent workers don't quite get to the finish line because there are things that separate them.¬† But I'm most impressed by both sides.¬† The Maloofs have thrown themselves into the team.¬† The City has responded with respect to sponsorship and ticket sales.¬† Joe Maloof and Gavin Maloof have been in town, going to games, selling tickets, doing whatever can be done, and the mayor has done wonders in terms of where he's put this.
So we're going to see whether we can bridge that gap.  I think both sides deserve it, particularly the City of Sacramento.

Q.  After the last CBA in 2005 I think you gave your owners a commitment of five years you would stay on the job.  What have you told them now about your commitment now that this CBA is done?
COMMISSIONER DAVID STERN:  I haven't told them anything.  I've told you more, okay?  I'm not going to be here when it either is or isn't reopened in six years.

Q.  Will you have that discussion at some point?
COMMISSIONER DAVID STERN:  Very soon.
 
Q.  Global growth of the game has been a key initiative of yours as your time as commissioner.  You made it clear down the road you want to have expansion in Europe, possibly even in Asia.  What's going to be factored in in terms of adding a possible 31st or 32st franchise within North America with the hopes to go international, as well?
COMMISSIONER DAVID STERN:  I just don't see a North American addition.  We're at 30, and we've got teams that we are working hard on to keep in their cities, to make strong through revenue sharing in our system, to grow their value, their fan base and the like.  You know, we don't beyond a 30th team in the U.S.  If you want to talk about Europe over the next ten years, Adam?
ADAM SILVER:  We'll see.

Q.¬† Could you talk about some of the obstacles that Portland faces in regards to hosting the All‑Star event?
COMMISSIONER DAVID STERN:¬† I don't see any obstacles because I haven't focused on it recently.¬† The last time I spoke about it, it had to do with hotel rooms, and I just don't know.¬† There's no shortage of hotel rooms here.¬† There's no shortage of hotel rooms in cities like we've been to recently, like Los Angeles or ones we're going to next year like Houston or Dallas or New Orleans.¬† I don't know that‑‑ I don't know, and I could be corrected and we'll see, that Portland has the hotel stock to accommodate the large group that inevitably follows us, and it isn't just about those that come to the games.¬† The amount of people that come into town is a multiple of the 20,000 people going to the game.
ADAM SILVER:¬† And just the NBA alone accounts for almost 11,000 room nights in the All‑Star city, and that's historically been the issue in Portland, because of course what we now are calling All‑Star week has expanded to the point that there are also needs for thousands of additional rooms beyond what we're booking.
So we'd love to find a way to get to Portland, but that continues to be the issue for Portland and many other ideal cities, and just a function of not enough hotel rooms.

Q.  Can you confirm how big of an issue the contribution from the City of Sacramento financially to the complex and the arena play, and how big of an issue is their contribution to kind of bridging that gap?
COMMISSIONER DAVID STERN:¬† It depends which side you're on.¬† Life is a negotiation.¬† We'd like the City, on behalf of the Maloofs, to make the largest possible contribution.¬† The City would like the Maloofs to make the largest‑‑ both have come up with very substantial contributions.¬† It's really getting there.¬† It's just not there yet.¬† And we're looking for other ways, imaginative ways, to bridge the gap.

Q.  Would you say that's the most significant issue in getting this thing done?
COMMISSIONER DAVID STERN:  You mean that it's coming down to money after all of this?  Yeah.

Q.  It's been two months now since you vetoed the Chris Paul to the Lakers trade, and it's given you two months of the benefit of hindsight and two months to look at the impact it's had on several teams, the Clippers, the Lakers and especially the Hornets.  Given the benefit of that hindsight, was that veto, since you've never done one before, the right thing to do, and why?
COMMISSIONER DAVID STERN:  You've been around too long to phrase the question that way.  I didn't veto anything.  We are acting on behalf of the owners, as the owners' rep.  New Orleans decided not to make the trade.

Q.  Well, whose decision was it to stop the trade?
COMMISSIONER DAVID STERN:  No, not to stop.  There's no superstar that gets traded in this league unless the owner says, go ahead with it.  And in the case of New Orleans, the representative of the owner said, "That's not a trade we're going to make."

Q.  But that representative was you?
COMMISSIONER DAVID STERN:  Correct.

Q.  So in effect then, you said the trade is not going to go through?
COMMISSIONER DAVID STERN:  I said that New Orleans would not make the trade that had been proposed to them.

Q.  And was that the right move to make?
COMMISSIONER DAVID STERN:  You know, buy a ticket and see.  We'll see how it works out.
 
Q.¬† I hate to press you on it, and I don't want to break decorum‑‑
COMMISSIONER DAVID STERN:  No, that's okay, go ahead.

Q.  The Hornets didn't make out as well in that trade as they would have made out in the earlier trade in terms of talent.  The best player they've got is injured and the draft pick is the same draft pick.
COMMISSIONER DAVID STERN:¬† I could go toe to toe.¬† It wouldn't be breaking decorum, it would be taking a lot of people's time.¬† You're arguing whether we thought Marc Gasol would be an All‑Star.

Q.  I think we've always been in agreement on that.
COMMISSIONER DAVID STERN:¬† You knew he was going to be an All‑Star?

Q.  Absolutely, sir.  I cover a lot of international basketball.
COMMISSIONER DAVID STERN:  Okay, I have no further questions for the witness then (laughter).  Next question.

Q.  It's been obviously a long time since there's been any succession in commissionership.  Is there a protocol there in terms of what your role would be with the owners and who succeeds?  And do you make a recommendation for Adam, I guess?
COMMISSIONER DAVID STERN:¬† I guess I would say that one of the things that a good CEO does, and I try to be a good CEO, is provide his board with a spectacular choice for its successor, and I think I've done that, and that's Adam.¬† And that's ultimately‑‑ if I had the decision, if I were doing it myself, he would be the commissioner.¬† But as I said before, the board will make that decision.
ADAM SILVER:  Thank you.
COMMISSIONER DAVID STERN:  And I just cut his salary by half after that ringing endorsement.  But it'll be well worth it.  I'm sure he'll be happy to take it.

Q.  I'm just wondering, given what Cavs fans went through when LeBron left, your reaction to seeing them get the No.1 pick and the start that Kyrie is off to?
COMMISSIONER DAVID STERN:¬† It's beautiful.¬† It's part of the rite of renewal.¬† It's what happens.¬† You make decisions.¬† You know, Carmelo was traded by Denver; Deron Williams was traded by Utah; the Cavs went a different way.¬† And for that they got two first‑round draft picks and they've got themselves a competitive young team that's looking better.¬† I'd like you to sit here with Brian after the press conference and we'll talk about it a little, but there are different ways to go.¬† And that's the ecosystem that is the NBA.¬† You know, players bargained for and got the right, at some point in their career, to be free agents.¬† I was there when we even agreed, imagined, that a player who had been with a team for a long enough period of time had the right to veto a trade, because he wanted to go to one city with his family or another, and he had earned the right to be treated in a different way.
But I think it's great that the Cavs have done that, and I'm delighted that Dan Gilbert hasn't sent me any emails this week

Q.  We missed you this year.  We want to know when you're going to be coming back, and what plans are in place for a return of the NBA in London.
ADAM SILVER:  We're working on it.  As many people here know, we had scheduled two regular season games in London, which unfortunately had to be canceled because of the lockout and the shortened schedule.  But we're busy working on bringing back regular season games to the beautiful O2 Arena next year, and we hope to continue to do so on a regular basis.

Q.  Has a deal been signed?
ADAM SILVER:  No, nothing has been signed yet.

Q.  Adam, you've been sitting next to David in press conferences for a while, a lot has gone on.  What do you think now, where it's getting closer to the process, where you might take over?  And how prepared do you feel if you have that opportunity?
ADAM SILVER:  (Passes microphone to David Stern).
COMMISSIONER DAVID STERN:¬† He's only been doing it for 20 years.¬† It's still a project and a work in process.¬† I'll answer for him, okay?¬† Any other questions on that subject?¬† But he's a first‑rate top‑of‑the‑class executive, not just sports executive, but if you wanted to be a little bit broader, you could see media and sports executive.¬† If you want to go broader, you could go international.¬† If you wanted to go broader, you could do all kinds of things.¬† But I just wanted to lower his salary even a little bit more.

Q.  What are your early impressions of the concussion policy?  And what sort of feedback have you gotten from teams that have been affected by that?
COMMISSIONER DAVID STERN:  You know, my early impressions are there's just nothing to have an impression about other than we're going to enforce the rules to protect the players.  They're the most important asset that we have.  And we recognize that there might be some pressure sometime in individual circumstances to accept a player's determination to go back into a game, saying he was ready to do it, and put himself at risk, and we're not going to do it.
I think the teams have been very supportive of that.  They may not agree with every single instance, but collectively they agree completely, because they wanted a uniform policy, and competitively our policy is there.  Everyone gets treated the same, players and teams alike.  And honestly it arms the teams with the ability to say to a player who wants to make an imprudent decision, you can't do that, the League won't let us.  So they've got one more thing to blame the League for, and this is a good one.
 
Q.  Can you update us on your perspective of the excitement surrounding the new Brooklyn arena and everything it had to go through to be built.
COMMISSIONER DAVID STERN:  We are very happy for Bruce Ratner and Mikhail Prokhorov that this building has not only risen from the ground, but it's going to be indoors, completely pretty soon, and it's going to be on time and opening.  It is great for Brooklyn.  It is great for the Knicks.  We're going to have a spectacular rivalry.  And it's going to be great for the fans of New York City and the NBA to have that kind of a rivalry and that kind of a new building.
When you think about the new Barclays Center, the transformed Madison Square Garden, the Amway Center and the array of arenas that are just world‑class palaces, it just is great for the New York area, but it's also great for the NBA and the fans of the NBA.¬† And we're looking forward to seeing it.¬† We briefed the Relocation Committee on it in April.¬† We expect to have a full‑fledged presentation by the Nets on what's going on with this arena, which is very good, because we're close to it at the League office.¬† We've been watching it.¬† Adam even went out there in his wing‑tips to walk through the mud.¬† It was very exciting.¬† That's one of the training tips that I gave him.
 
Q.  There's been some reports that shoe companies may be steering stars to the major markets.  Is that a concern?  Have you guys looked into that?  Can you police that?
ADAM SILVER:  Ultimately we don't have jurisdiction over shoe companies, but we have looked into it, and we have been assured by the two major shoe companies in the league that the incentives they build into the contracts are based on winning as opposed to market size.

Q.  It's 20 years since the Dream Team went to Barcelona, and obviously we've seen how that's sparked the growth of international basketball.  Within the NBA has that been a complete unqualified benefit?
COMMISSIONER DAVID STERN:  The question is whether the Dream Team, which has sparked enormous interest internationally, has been an unqualified benefit for the NBA, the development since then.  And I would say that everything is always an issue of proportion and percentages, but sitting here with 77 or so spectacular NBA players, the tops in the world who were born outside the United States, how could any rational commissioner not say this is great?  And that's unrelated to the business of the NBA.  It's the richness of our league, the richness of our fans' experience in getting to sort of imbibe different cultures.
I love to talk about basketball as a place to have great conversations, and from learning about China through Yao Ming to learning that Sarunas Marciulionis who was Lithuanian was and everyone thought was Russian, wouldn't speak Russian because he wasn't Russian.  We get to learn all kinds of good things, and we also get to see that the international players have not only skill but attitude, which is even more fun.
So I'd say it was an unqualified success for the addition that it represented to the NBA, and we're looking forward to the 20th anniversary.
It's ironic:  Here we are at the 20th anniversary of the Orlando/Magic Johnson MVP game, which was, I think, a watershed for our league in terms of being able to influence important issues well beyond basketball, and I think that we're at the 20th anniversary coming up to Barcelona, where we were catapulted to a place where we could engage the world in conversations about exercise, health, fitness, being engaged by governments to talk about diabetes and obesity and the like, and also just to enjoy our sport.
I'm a believer that it was a great thing, that we didn't necessarily go into with our eyes open, and we didn't necessarily go that enthusiastically, but it turned out to be great for the NBA.
We just made plans, Adam and I met with Ivan Mainini, he's the president of FIBA, and Patrick Baumann, the secretary general, and we agreed that we would have a celebration in London about the Dream Team.¬† And then‑secretary general Boris Stankovic's visit to my office to suggest that the NBA should be invited into the Olympic movement and would we consider accepting that invitation.

Q.  This is my first time in this beautiful arena and there is also a beautiful arena in Shanghai that is the Mercedes Arena.  In the future do you have any plan to bring the NBA China game to Shanghai, and to cooperate with Yao Ming's team to play an exhibition show?  Because I still remember last time I asked a question in the press conference, I said that if one day Yao Ming becomes the boss of a team, will you support him or cooperate with him, and now he's a boss.
COMMISSIONER DAVID STERN:  Adam has a lot to say about that.
ADAM SILVER:¬† Well, as a matter of fact, I was in Shanghai two weeks ago.¬† I attended a Shanghai Sharks game together with Yao, and we also met with the municipal government, are in discussions now about bringing an NBA preseason game or multiple games back to China next fall, including hopefully to that beautiful arena you mentioned in Shanghai, the Mercedes‑Benz Arena.¬† And Yao Ming has been a terrific owner in the CBA so far, and we look forward to working with him.
 
Q.  You mentioned bridging the gap, is the NBA considering an event into the Sacramento arena or a loan for the Maloofs?
COMMISSIONER DAVID STERN:  No.

Q.  So the NBA will not be a part of any money; it's strictly the city, the Maloofs and AEG?
COMMISSIONER DAVID STERN:  Life is a negotiation.
Thank you, everybody.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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