Monday, December 11, 2006

NBA: Stern's Relenting Autonomy

by Steve Cernak

NBA Commissioner David Stern announced Monday the league will revert to the old leather basketball January, the first time in pro sports a mid season equipment change occurred.

"Our players' response to this particular composite ball has been consistently negative and we are acting accordingly," Stern issued in a statement. "Although testing performed by Spalding and the NBA demonstrated that the new composite basketball was more consistent than leather, and statistically there has been an improvement in shooting, scoring, and ball-related turnovers, the most important statistic is the view of our players.”

The commissioner acknowledged a mistake and acted accordingly. When Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd—three of the league’s most marketable players—sustained cuts from the league ball, most players hoped the ball would change in the off-season.

Yes, Stern committed an egregious error by not seeking player input prior to the ball swap, but he should be applauded for protecting the integrity of the game sooner rather than later.

Contrast Stern's proactivity with the other commissioners reactivity. MLB Commissioner Bud Selig issued an in-season steroids policy only when prompted by Congress. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has yet to even comment on this year’s ridiculous rules interpretation of roughing the passer, perpetuating preposterous penalties and defensive tepidity. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman required league failure before addressing two-line passes, goalie equipment size, adding a shootout and what drove the league from network television: the trap.

Here’s to the typically autonomous David Stern bringing in 2007 by admitting and undoing his error, rather than inviting a season defining controversy by maintaining status quo until the off season.

No comments: