Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock or just avoided all forms of sports-related media yesterday, you’ve heard the flare-up between Jim Rome and David Stern.
1. Rome asked the commissioner point-blank about New Orleans winning the draft lottery.
2. Stern then denigrated Rome’s character and career.
The way Rome asked the question precipitated the response. Did David Stern need to fire it up a response in that matter and make it personal? Did Rome have to use the term “fix?”
The answer is simply – NO – on both accounts. Rome went for the play to prod the badger. He knows the Commish’s penchant for returning a lob with a snarky comment. He knows that Stern will summarily dismiss questions and deride hosts.
The commissioner could have simply said that he’s heard it all for 25 years and laughed it off. He could have dismissed it as he had 100,000 times before picking up the phone on Tuesday. Stern responded aggressively and gave the blogosphere and sports talk radio a topic that now overshadows his marquee event, the event that he was on to promote. Of course, this story is also crushing the aftermath of The Stanley Cup Final, the start of the U.S. Open and a possible reboot of Tigermania, and the fact that Matt Cain tossed a perfect game last night. You didn’t know about the third, of course, but you sure as hell knew about the other two topics.
Rome could have asked about transparency of the lottery process. He could have asked how to get past the fact that conspiracy theorists line up time and again to ask about the draft lottery.
But the commissioner knows that Rome is going to ask the tough questions. He knows that Rome isn’t pulling punches and should have adjusted his responses accordingly.
Was the commissioner going to tee off on him regardless of how he broached the subject? It’s very possible. Stern was tired of hearing the question and sifting through the commentary in the social media world. It’s a question that surfaces each and every year dating back to the “frozen envelope,” Michael Jordan’s foray into baseball, through LeBron’s arrival in Cleveland and into this year’s lottery win in New Orleans. This was the perfect high-profile spot to make his point, though he did so in a way that undermined the entire point he was trying to make.
“Shame on you.” What is he, five?
*** Stern tried to summarily dismiss Rome’s career by saying that no “respectable journalist,” would ask about the topic. He added, “You do things sometimes for cheap thrills.”
Throw in a “pouting” reference and the name-dropping of Stephen A. Smith, and Stern created the exact situation and media circus that he mocked/derided Rome for earlier in the interview. Rome asked the question. Stern could have swatted it away without acting like a petulant child. ***
We started the sports week started with talk of “fixing” in Las Vegas as a result of the Pacquaio-Bradley fight. Changes could be exacted to make a change to the judging/selection process if the leagues and organizing bodies felt compelled to do so.
We head toward the weekend with everyone using the Internets to ferret out additional conspiracy stories. I can’t wait to see what gets unearthed next.
I do want to ask this question. Should David Stern suspend/fine himself for conduct detrimental to the league?