Commentary: David Stern will never be forgiven in Seattle

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SEATTLE — We put our spotlight one last time in 2013 on NBA Commissioner David Stern.

sternI could stand here and call him a pompous, egotistical and overpaid hypocrite, whose unnecessary cheap shot at Seattle said it all. But what burns me most? That outside Seattle, his legacy might be considered admirable – even heroic.

I worry that when Stern retires in February, the national media will praise him for his accomplishments more than his failures. After all, the NBA’s overall success over a 30-year period in terms of financial growth, globalization and league prosperity is tough to match. It’s fair to say that those triumphs will overshadow the black marks of a few lockouts, a referee betting scandal, and the relocation of the Sonics to Oklahoma City.

I worry that in the big picture of Stern’s career, the world turns its head on the sacrificial lamb.

That it forgets how he played our city like a fiddle – twice – for the greater good of his league.

If Stern had any remorse at all, this past week was his ultimate chance at redemption. A promise of expansion could’ve helped make things right. Forget his policies of protocol and process – enough owners would’ve followed Stern’s lead had he actively supported a special circumstance for expansion in Seattle – especially on the heels of another exceptional presentation by Chris Hansen.

Instead, Seattle got nothing.

And to be clear, when Kevin Johnson and Sacramento bent over backwards, Stern reciprocated.

But when Hansen and Steve Ballmer did, Stern didn’t lift a finger.

Worst of all, I worry that Stern’s reported lobbying efforts to sway the NBA Board of Governors’ vote might portray him as a hero or guardian angel in Sacramento. And I worry that he’ll be lauded in Charlotte for awarding them an expansion team in 2004 after the Hornets left town. And that he’ll be praised in New Orleans for using league money to keep a team there before it could find a local owner.

In the end, I worry that Stern will be remembered for making up for his past mistakes when the biggest – most drastic and hurtful one of all – was left unresolved.

David Stern was a manipulator who made his owners and himself a whole lot of money. His missteps may or may not register as a blip on the national portrayal of his ultimate legacy.

But to me, Stern will never be forgiven in Seattle.

He’ll always be the man who threw out the baby – and kept the bathwater.

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  • justme

    Get over people! He did us a favor by not letting an NBA team return to seattle… saved all of us millions in tax dollars that would have been passed on to us… be thankful!

    • CB

      Shut it. The millions upon millions of funds that a new arena would have provided, let alone the jobs created, the upgrade to the SODO infrastructure, and boost to civic pride would have well overrun any “tax” dollars spent. Ever hear of I-91, dimwit? Hansen’s group not only met, but EXCEEDED it. Go read up before you post.

      Oh, and great article Aaron. David Stern can die of Gonorrhea and rot in hell.

  • west side tim

    justme, when you make stupid statements like that it, just shows how little you understand the arena deal. And I assume you were not a Sonics fan by your get over it statement. When you tell someone that their feelings are invalid because you don't agree with their point of view, it shows you to be a shallow, self-centered person.

  • Imua Nakoa

    David Stern is a Mafia boss. The NBA has devolved into a fiefdom of noblesse oblige that would make the North Korean dictatorship blush.

    Stern colluded with personal friend Clay Bennet and his Oklahoma cronies to steal the Sonics from Seattle in the first place. Then Stern put Bennett in charge of the NBA “relocation committee” that influenced the decision about whether Seattle would get a team this time around.

    And Stern SPECIFICALLY said F-U Seattle in his press conference announcing the Kings would stay in Sacramento. He started his comments by referencing OKC. Then he 5-second paused when asked if Seattle had been used as a pawn before giving a non-answer. Then he closed his comments by saying Seattle would be given NO assurances of a franchise or another team and that expansion talks were years away. He said in the event that expansion talks EVER took place in the future, Seattle would only be assured that they would be considered fairly, just like VANCOUVER?!, VIRGINIA BEACH?!, LAS VEGAS?!, ANAHEIM?! What the freak.

    If Stern’s intention in all of this was to create a nuclear war with Seattle fans, I think he may have just got his wish.

    And if Sacramento fans want to applaud him for allowing their community to be strong-armed into paying for an arena that they can ill-afford, and that in reality, the NBA and it’s owners have ample money to pay for, they are dumber than I thought. They can celebrate the fact that they got to keep their crappy team, but Sacramento got worked big time. Just like every city David Stern does “business” with. David Stern is no NBA city’s friend — you can count on that.

    His presence at Gary Payton’s induction into the Hall of Fame should be boycotted. Seattle fans should wear black arm bands with a gold “S” in protest at any NBA event. Seattle fans should be present, not disruptive, but display the truth about David Stern at any of his retirement events. Every chance we get we should be the specters and remind him of his sins, for this devil named Stern has no conscience.

    Nuclear war Stern? You got it baby.

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