Back before Chris Paul put on his Los Angeles Clippers uniform for the first time, it looked like he was going to be playing for the city’s other team instead. It seemed like the trade was a done deal until the league-owned New Orleans Hornets backed out. Since it looked like David Stern was stopping what appeared to be a good trade for both teams, fans assumed he was using the league’s ownership to extend his own NBA agenda.
When Stern joined The Herd on ESPN radio, he defended his actions.
“I think that what happened there is people thought I was somehow stepping in as commissioner and undoing something under the broad powers of the game. That couldn’t have been further from the truth. Picture this team being owned by the NBA and you could have had a vote by the board of governors whether the trade should be approved or not. Maybe it be 15-14 and have each governor vote on perhaps whether they wanted Chris to go into their division or their conference or something that was extraneous to the one issue which was what’s best for New Orleans. That’s an area about the voting is exactly the reason why it was decided by the various committees and the board that ultimately the league office would make the final decision on what’s good for the New Orleans Hornets and that’s what we did.”
Stern says he was acting in the best interest of the Hornets. After the lockout, I’ve learned to take everything the commissioner says with a grain of salt. Maybe he did actually believe that the trade wouldn’t benefit New Orleans as much as everyone thought. But the whole thing just smelt too much like more of that “big market/small market” talk that started coming up after the lockout. He claims he was just acting as part of the team, but to think that his vote didn’t matter more than others would just be silly.
Basically, the moral of the story here is that the NBA shouldn’t own a team. The conflict of interest is too great. No matter what Stern does for the Hornets, people are always going to look at it under a microscope, and talk about how it benefits the NBA. Stern may have saved the New Orleans franchise, but it’s going to cause him a lot of grief in the long run if things like this keep coming up.