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David Stern didn't and wouldn't have stopped the free agent summit

Jun 4, 2010, 10:39 AM EDT

davidstern-ap.jpgEnforcing tampering rules practically begs for a witch hunt. At some point everyone is culpable, and questions of who is punishable under NBA rules can start to get a little fuzzy as the types of personnel accused of tampering become more and more diverse.

It makes sense that players under contract could be accused of tampering, but does that mean they’re not allowed to give advice to their friends around the league? Or does it mean they’re not allowed to give advice that pushes them towards coming to the team they’re currently under contract with? What about free agent players? And free agent players that are pretty much certain to re-sign with their team? Coaches that are former players? Team broadcasters, that are technically team employees, making comments on the air? It really never ends.

David Stern and the league office will have it tough in choosing which violations are worthy of punishment, and that’s why the enforcement of the rules have been so selective of late. That said, the Commish made it clear that the “free agent summit” was not put on trial by the league, and was not the latest victim in the tampering hunt. From the Associated Press:

There will be no free agency summit. So says NBA commissioner David Stern, claiming he’s been assured at the “highest level” that there will be no sitdown among LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and the other superstars who could hit the market on July 1. And that was the players’ choice, not an order from him. “I would expect our players to talk to one another, and we don’t
have any problem with that,” Stern said Thursday during his annual NBA
Finals news conference. “If some kind of tampering is implicated, I
will have a later and different view, but we’re not expecting that.”

…”They
can have it,” he said. “I was wondering whether they would get
together, eight players and they’ll all look at D-Wade’s ring? They’d
be better off watching these finals to see how you construct a team and
how you play and the like. There’s not going to be a summit.”

This is probably the most reasonable stance Stern could’ve taken on the issue, although I’m not exactly sure how the implication of tampering would arise, at least more so than already exists. Barring the league employing Joe Johnson as a mole, the NBA won’t exactly have eyes and ears on this thing. Still, the fact that Stern didn’t and wouldn’t try to stop it is a minor victory in itself, as the the tampering enforcement could’ve taken a leap towards lunacy had he done otherwise.

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