David Stern Holds Annual All-Star Press Conference
David Stern held his annual All-Star press conference on Saturday night. He addressed a number of hot-button topics including the New Orleans Hornets sale, arena negotiations with the Sacramento Kings and Jeremy Lin’s ascent to stardom Stern addressed the media for 45 minutes in a filled-to-capacity room. Here are some of the notable quotes from the press conference:
On the New Orleans Hornets sale:
“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.”
On the arena negotiations with the Sacramento Kings:
“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.”
“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. 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.
On Jeremy Lin’s rise to stardom:
“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. 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.”
On the NBA returning to Seattle:
“All I can say is that Chris (Hansen), 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.
“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.”
On the NBA’s new concussion policy:
“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.”
On Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver replacing him:
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 say 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.