The night David Stern became Vince McMahon
This came further into the public eye with the Tim Donaghy issues, and Commissioner David Stern’s (at times) abhorrent handling of the recent lockout.
With Thursday night’s events, everything came into focus.
David Stern is Vince McMahon… he’s just missing the theme music.
Whilst no-one can deny that the Charlotte Bobcats received karmic justice by not receiving the number one pick for screwing their fans out of a competitive season (Thanks for reminding me. -Ed), it came as no surprise that the (until-recently league-owned) Hornets landed the top overall pick. The internet was instantly abuzz with “conspiracy theory” tweets and Facebook posts, only this isn’t a theory – we were joking about this happening back in January. That it’s now happened is conspiracy itself, not theory at all.
In Stern’s first-ever draft lottery, he was accused of refridgerating the Knicks’ draft envelope to get the league’s signature team Patrick Ewing, at the time, a ferocious shot-blocker and defensive presence, fresh off a dominant NCAA campaign. Sound familiar? Even if we forget about the above picture of Davis in a Hornets cap - which emerged a fortnight before the Lottery – it seems suspicious.
What concerns me more than that though, is the current Heat-Celtics sideshow. Admittedly, I’m an unabashed fan of the Celtics, who has seen the aging C’s move into Jason Voorhies territory as the 2012 season went on, to the point that someone is going to have to cut off their head to stop them fighting. However, none of this matters, as whoever wins the Eastern Conference Finals should be eviscerated by the San Antonio Asterisks (who seem to save their best seasons for lockout years).
In 2004, Dwyane Wade robbed the MVP Award from referee Bennett Salvatore, who sent Wade to the line so often that his PER for that series ended up higher than any player in any finals, ever. Just let that sink in… Wade – according to John Hollinger’s increasingly advanced metrics – better than Bird, West, Russell, Magic, Shaq, Kobe, Olajuwon or even Jordan, when it mattered the most.
Last year, Wade’s bodyslam on Rajon Rondo resulted in a severely dislocated elbow, Rondo gamely trying to play through it, Miami advancing past the Celtics and absolutely zero league-mandated punishment for an undoubtedly dirty and dangeous play.
In Game 2 Wednesday, Wade once more assaulted an increasingly-dominant Rondo as a tight game was winding down… the zebras swallowed their whistles, and the Heat snuck out in overtime.
My biggest concern is that the Spurs (whom I admire greatly despite my asterisk jokes) will receive the Salvatore treatment in the finals, and we’ll forever remember the best team that Tim Duncan’s ever been a part of so very differently. Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili should be remembered as the best backcourt of the past thirty years. Gregg Popovich should be spoken of in the same breath as Red Auerbach for building and coaching a winning team (something Phil Jackson has never done); and Duncan should be remembered as the best player in the league for the duration of his career, and someone approaching “Top Five, Dead or Alive” status.
Just know that in a few weeks time, when you’re watching Wade take his twentieth free-throw of the night, with LeBron having already taken his, while the commentators are saying that the Spurs “never foul this much”, that David Stern is polishing up the championship belts for the Heat, and putting plans together for the dynasty after them, too.