Bryant Gumbel: NBA Commissioner David Stern like ‘a modern plantation overseer’

Jeff Poor Media Reporter
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On Tuesday, HBO “Real Sports” host Bryant Gumbel took aim at NBA Commissioner David Stern, questioning the tactics he has employed throughout the labor standoff that has already resulted in the cancellation of the first two weeks of the basketball season.

“If the NBA lockout is going to be resolved any time soon, it seems likely to be done in spite of David Stern, not because of him,” Gumbel said.

“I say that because the NBA’s infamously egocentric commissioner seemed more hell-bent recently on demeaning the players rather than his game’s labor impasse. How else to explain Stern’s rants in recent days? To any and everyone who would listen, he has alternately knocked union leader Billy Hunter, said the players were getting inaccurate information, and started sounding ‘Chicken Little’ claims about what games might be lost if players didn’t soon see things his way.”

That, says Gumbel, is evidence for his explosive analogy, in which he likened Stern to a “plantation overseer”:

“Stern’s version of what has been going on behind closed doors has of course been disputed, but his efforts were typical of a commissioner who has always seemed eager to be viewed as some kind of modern plantation overseer, treating NBA men as if they were his boys,” Gumbel continued. “It’s part of Stern’s [modus operandi], like his past self-serving edicts on dress code and the questioning of officials. His moves were intended to do little more than show how he’s the one keeping the hired hands in their place.

Gumbel admitted that some will disagree with his analogy, but doubled down and urged Stern to be part of the solution.

“Some will of course cringe at that characterization, but Stern’s disdain for the players is as palpable and pathetic as his motives are transparent. Yes, the NBA’s business model is broken. But to fix it, maybe the league’s commissioner should concern himself most with the solution and stop being part of the problem.”


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