A Commissioner is to be…

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com•mis•sion•er (k-msh-nr)
n. Abbr. Com. or Comr.
1. A member of a commission.
2. A person authorized by a commission to perform certain duties.
3. A governmental official in charge of a department: a police commissioner.
4. Sports An official selected by an athletic association or league to exercise administrative or regulatory powers over it: a baseball commissioner.

David Stern is the commissioner of the NBA. He is also the face of it (sorry Lebron, Kobe and D-Wade). Stern is the lingering image of what the NBA has become and the trendsetter in the increasingly visible corporate structure of professional sports.

But is Stern’s influence on the visibility bordering on star status of professional sports professionals a good thing.

Clearly the role of a commissioner has grown over the years. With increased public access and need to image management, the NBA, NFL and other major sports leagues need to have a robust system for addressing the many public relations nightmares that are faced on a yearly basis. But has Stern pushed the envelope to far where he is too recognizable?

When you think of the NBA you are going to think of the dunks, the last second shots and the players collapsing on the field of victory and sometimes defeat, but you also picture David Stern, chest puffed out, head raised and gut sucked in, standing next to someone nearly twice his height.

Stern inherited the NBA in the middle of the Magic/Bird Era which lead into the Jordan Era and then into the Shaq/Kobe Era with a brief interlude which we will call the pre-Kobe/Shaq Era. He didn’t exactly make the league and I don’t think it is quite as popular as it was during the first 15 years of his reign. But all in all the league has been successful with him as a commissioner, so why complain.

Because I don’t want to think of a short guy in a grey suit with that weird smile when I think of basketball. And I don’t want to think of a slightly balding redhead who squints when I think of football or of Bud Selig ever! To me the commissioner should be someone who handles the game like the wizard of Oz; from behind the curtain.

I don’t need a slowly delivered, carefully worded response that doesn’t address the question. I need more dunks and more of Charles Barkly telling me why something is terrible. Sorry Stern but I think the less we see of you the more we are going to see of your sport.

Speculation abounds as to where Lebron will take the assumed title he will be winning over the next few years. Few believe, after the loss to the Celtics, that he will be remaining a Cavalier. So, everyone one, including owners and GMs, are wondering aloud what plans the star has for himself.

But all the speculation on Lebron has one major hurdle to get over. The NBA draft has a clear cut top 2 and it could become a free for all with teams who are less likely to get Lebron to secure some young talent.

I can’t image anyone talking the number one pick from Washington unless they are looking to take on Gilbert Arenas’ contract and making a real honey pot deal. But the 76ers are looking to lighten their load financially. They are looking to get out from underneath the less than comfortable bulk of the Elton Brand contract (he is set to make 17 and 18 million over the next two years respectively).

The Timberwolves need to move up and get a future franchise player and since they already have a stable of point guards, including some that seem reluctant to cross the pond, John Wall seems like a poor choice.

Minnesota has a stacking problem at power forward. Jefferson and Love turn in essentially the same game and it is hard to find a way to play them together.

A trade up for a number 2 where they take on the Elton Brand contract seems unlikely unless the Timberwolves can find a new team for Jefferson’s contract. So unless a 3 team deal or 2 trades get taken care of I don’t know how the Timberwolves work their way up for the Turner pick.

The Nets and new owner Mikhail Prokhorov is a complete wild card. Now one knows just yet what type of owner he is going to be. He might be a crazy throw money at every problem type of an owner or he might be a more reserved throw money at every problem type of an owner so speculation as to trades with that team are hard to figure out.

Until the 24th the question of what is going to happen at the top of the draft class is contingent upon Elton Brand (and possibly Gilbert Arenas if a GM decides he wants to one up the Timberwolves’ last draft aka Point Guard Fest 2009).

The best chance of that happening? Probably a 3 way trade with Phili, Detroit and Minnesota. Then again, maybe New Jersey will just buy the top 3 picks.



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