Stern leaves with a legacy of greatness
Everyone will have an opinion, some more well formed than others, but in this corner, he leaves a legacy of unfathomable success and as one of the very best commissioners in the history of the four North American pro sports.
You’d probably put Pete Rozelle at the top of that list all-time, you might say for competitive balance and North American success that Bud Selig’s doing a pretty good job but what Stern has done globally is unmatched, and will be, forever.
Yes, he can be autocratic and a bit of a bully but you can’t herd ownership cats and players like he has to without being that way. It’s not an easy job by any stretch of the imagination getting diverse personalities and businesses to act for the common good and if takes some arm-twisting and arrogance and toughness to get it done, so be it.
Yes, there were lockouts – they seem inevitable -- and, yes, vetoing the original Chris Paul trade might have been a stretch of authority but if you’re a position like that, things are going to happen and decisions will have to be made that, in hindsight, might not be the greatest.
But it cannot diminish from the overall picture.
Stern made, or helped make, an incredible amount of money for a lot of people; he presided over an era of unprecedented global growth of the game and the sport is positioned today better than perhaps it ever has been.
I guess the argument could be made – and will be made – that the growth would have been inevitable and others in Stern’s place could have pulled it off, but I doubt it and discount that point of view.
No matter what you think of him, he got it done; he twisted arms to make deals because he had to and he cleaned up a sport rife with drug problems and one that was far out of the consciousness of the general public and made it a global force.
He presided over an era of inclusion for people all over the world, he presided over an era where basketball almost rivals soccer as the world’s No. 1 game. No, it’s not there yet but it’s closer than you think.
Say what you will about his style but his style works for the common good; he’ll leave a game unimaginably better off than when he arrived and he should be remembered as someone who had a passion for the sport and business that was perfect for his time.
Is he perfect? Who is?
Was he a perfect fit for the job? I’d say so.
You wander down Beale Street at 6:30 p.m. and stop in the Blues Hall Juke Joint and hear a really good five-man band doing the blues and then you can walk up to BB King’s to have some catfish bites, a couple of glasses of Yeungling and hear three guys do Suspicious Mind because it’s the last No. 1 hit for Elvis and it’s a not bad night at all.
And the common song heard at both places?
Should have worn by Muddy Waters t-shirt.
So, yeah, Obama goes on Leno and says something about hoping the pucks people get their act together – as if anyone connected with the union or ownership are going to pay attention – and it becomes news.
This would have been news.
“Jay, I don’t care if they ever come back. Hockey’s a marginal sport here in the United States, I don’t think too many people miss it and, besides, I’m a basketball guy and if there’s no hockey, there’s more room for hoops.”
But, seriously, who gives a rat’s bum what a politician says, it’s sure not going to make a bit of difference to the two sides.
Speaking of questions and answers …
And, yes, we shall return with an IGBT tonight, right around 8 p.m. Toronto time, if you’re interested.
As a guy who has decried the lack of original nicknames in sports these days, I’m quite fine with the Sandoval dude on the Giants being known as the Panda.
All right, you might want to sleep fast tonight because, with all due modesty, the Steve Nash thing we’ve got going in the paper is pretty fascinating.
It’s not “written” it’s more a Q and A and his own words, I was the guy doing the transcript and the questioning.
Q: I know the Terry Fox film was obviously a very personal thing (Nash produced a critically-acclaimed documentary on Terry Fox for ESPN’s original 30 For 30 series) and I know you and Jay (Triano, an old friend and former coach) had great respect for what Terry did. How did that influence your life?
A: I was six when Terry was running across our country and to see a young man running across Canada, he looked like a hero and he looked fit and healthy and then you notice he’s limping. As a six-year-old, you think, ‘hey, look at this great athlete, why does he have a prosthetic leg, what is that, why?” And it just provoked so many questions and taught me so many things about life. Not only about the fragility of health, the fairness of life, but getting on with life and being mentally tough, unselfish and bringing people together, so many lessons and thoughts that Terry provoked in all of us. As a six-year-old it was pretty impressionable and I’m sure it was the same way for everyone at every age.
He was a hero to all for us add I don’t really know if there’s a bigger figure in Canada than Terry Fox. Even Gretz because of the special moment in time and Terry’s incredible story.
Seriously, I don’t often toot my own horn but there’s some really interesting stuff in there if you’re inclined to give it a read either today if it gets posted here this afternoon or tomorrow morning in your paper I don’t think it’d be time wasted at all.
Okay, I’m back to normal after that little LA experience, a shootaround and an early story today and don’t forget we’re coming to Rama on Sunday afternoon for yet another open practice.
See you then.