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Bryant Gumbel compares David Stern to “plantation overseer”

Oct 19, 2011, 12:36 AM EDT

*Jul 24 - 00:05*

Bryant Gumbel closed out Tuesday night’s new episode of HBO’s Real Sports with some incendiary comments on David Stern — comments made while Stern was meeting with Billy Hunter and the players union, along with a federal mediator.

What follows is the entire closing comments, courtesy HBO (the video is below). Know that some players are saying very much this same thing when the microphones are off. Hat tip to Paulie Pabst (of the Dan Patrick Show) for pointing this out.

“Finally tonight, if the NBA lockout is going to be resolved any time soon, it seems likely to be done in spite of David Stern, not because of him. I say that because the NBA’s infamously egocentric commissioner seems more hell-bent lately on demeaning the players than resolving his game’s labor impasse.

How else to explain Stern’s rants in recent days? To any and everyone who’d listen, he has alternately knocked union leader Billy Hunter, said the players were getting inaccurate information, and started sounding chicken-little claims about what games might be lost if the players didn’t soon see things his way.

Stern’s version of what’s been going on behind closed doors has, of course, been disputed. But his efforts were typical of a commissioner, who has always seemed eager to be viewed as some kind of modern plantation overseer treating NBA men as if they were his boys. It’s part of Stern’s M.O. Like his past self-serving edicts on dress code or the questioning of officials, his moves are intended to do little more than show how he’s the one keeping the hired hands in their place.

Some will, of course, cringe at that characterization, but Stern’s disdain for the players is as palpable and pathetic as his motives are transparent. Yes, the NBA’s business model is broken, but to fix it, maybe the league’s commissioner should concern himself most with a solution, and stop being part of the problem.”

This is not the first time Gumbel has willingly strode into controversial racial waters, he did the same thing talking about the NFL when Paul Tagliabue left office.

  1. tubal22 - Oct 19, 2011 at 12:50 AM

    Man if he’s saying NBA players are slaves, bring back the plantations and i’ll sign right up.

    • florida727 - Oct 19, 2011 at 7:54 AM

      Although I agree with his assessment regarding Stern, Bryant Gumbel is arguably the least relevant sportscaster in America. Without blog posts like this acknowledging he’s still out there, no one would even know this guy exists anymore. For what it’s worth, I’ve met his sister. Even she says Bryant is the biggest egomaniac in the English-speaking free world. Rarely speaks to his own family. Definitely does nothing to help them out when needed. Greg is the much better brother.

      • bigdog159bigdog159 - Oct 19, 2011 at 1:14 PM

        First of all, Bryant Gumbel started out as a sports journalist, before sportcasting, and then morning TV shows. So, I think that qualifies him as relevant, second of all, anyone who knows sports, specifically basketball, knows Bryant Gumblel’s description of David Stern’s character, is right on point. Mr Stern, for too long, has belittled the players, with his dismissive attitute, as if the players didn’t matter. I’m glad, FINALLY, someone in the news, has decided to take on, and talk about David Stern. It’s time for David Stern to leave his position as commisioner. It’s time for new commisioner. It’s time to get someone who cares about the players. Way to go Bryant Gumbel!

      • overahighbar1807 - Oct 20, 2011 at 10:55 AM

        Oh, he needs to go back to Good Morning America, or whatever it was…..he was a much better fit with the skirts.

    • rastaman44 - Oct 19, 2011 at 1:58 PM

      Only a white guy would state crap like that. Stern is an egomanaic and the NBA business model is broken.

  2. trbowman - Oct 19, 2011 at 1:26 AM

    David Stern is the devil, the NBA is fixed, blah blah blah

    Sheed said it all when he compared it to the WWE.

    Does anyone really think a team like the Charlotte Bobcats or Toronto Raptors is ever going to have a chance at a championship? Not a chance.

    • royistheboy - Oct 19, 2011 at 3:20 AM

      I agree that the odds are stacked against teams in smaller markets, that are less desirable to free agents and/or in cities that have a harder time supporting an NBA team. However, in the last 15 years the Cavs, Pacers and Jazz (twice) have made the Finals. Additionally the Bucks (’01) and T’Wolves (’04) we’re 1 and 2 games away from reaching the finals.

      Before these teams had their core group of players, many felt the same way as some of us do now about the Bobcats and Raptors.

      • evanhartford - Oct 19, 2011 at 8:59 AM

        What? I think in the last 30 years something like only 7 NBA teams have won a championship. That is BY FAR the worst parity of any professional sport.

      • mogogo1 - Oct 19, 2011 at 11:05 AM

        I don’t have the numbers on winners, but if memory serves since 1980 there have been 18 different NBA franchises go to The Finals. That’s over half the league, which isn’t bad. However, for the Super Bowl the number is 25. That’s nearly 40% more football teams making it to the championship. And arguably it should be EASIER to build a winning basketball team because you need fewer star players to do it.

  3. texmex2 - Oct 19, 2011 at 2:09 AM

    Mr. Stern aught to sue Gumball, there was no need nor basis for his rasit comments. He merely serves at the bequest of he owners of the NBA leauge, none of which arePlatation slave owners, how uttrly idiotic of Mr. Bryant, I would guess it’s not easy for him; getting old and becoming irrelivant~

  4. rferrel - Oct 19, 2011 at 2:27 AM

    Infamously egocentric is a very tame description of David Stern.He actually believes that he, and he alone, saved the NBA.Just like Johnny Unitas, Dick Butkus and Joe Namath, to name a few, built the NFL so did other stars of their day built the NBA.But to save the NBA only two stars come to mind.Magic and Larry.A monkey could have been commissioner and the NBA would have been saved.Micheal Jordan as great as he was would not have the audience to make the multi-millions he did in endorsements had it not been for them.The gag order on officiating is nothing more than him saying what I say is right even if you prove me wrong.The most hair pulling frustration is that he also believes that NBA fans are not smart enough to see that what he is selling of himself is just not true.

  5. goforthanddie - Oct 19, 2011 at 3:19 AM

    I don’t like the plantation comments, no matter how right-on-target they are.

  6. stephenpaulfreese - Oct 19, 2011 at 4:17 AM

    Bryant Gumbel is what is wrong with our media culture. He regurgitates the race card and fit in with the Sharpton, Farrakhan, Wright and Jackson cult. These men are race baiters and could not work a regular job.They seek to elevate themselves with their self righteousness. This does indeed keeps them relevant in the racist corners of our pluralistic society. They are men who have a seared conscience and do nothing to help the helpless. Ignoramuses they are. What they do not know is every idle word coming from their mouths will be judged and they indeed will receive the same judgement they spew on ours with their inflammatory rhetoric. They judge others by their actions but only judge themselves by their intentions…Ignoramuses they are indeed…

  7. seattlesuperchronic - Oct 19, 2011 at 5:55 AM

    Shut your face Gumbel! You stink!

    Get the lockout resolved! That goes for players, owners and Stern. It feels like I should be getting ready for some one-footed turnaround fade-always a la Dirk!

    • jimeejohnson - Oct 22, 2011 at 9:08 PM


  8. memphisyinzer - Oct 19, 2011 at 6:16 AM

    Gumble claiming racial claims? Goldberg making political claims? What the hell is new? The talents of both of these clowns gets over shadowed when they play those cards. I agree with the first comment…..if this is a plantation, sign me up for several million.
    Personally, I’d rather sit and listen to Greg Gumble call a game then listen to Bryant do anything.
    He has a lot of balls calling anyone egocentric.

  9. havlicekstoletheball - Oct 19, 2011 at 7:00 AM

    Every time there is a white commissioner of a league comprised largely of black players, the commissioner (and most owners) are compared to plantation owners.

    What if the players were all compared to Crips and Bloods because of their skin color?

    I would wager that there are a hell of a lot more players who get arrested for thuggish and criminal behavior than there are owners and commissioners who whip players or sell them away from their families.

    Once again, out of the mouth of Gumbel, oozing empathy for those poor, downtrodden souls who make, on average, $4,900,000 a year. Starvation wages. I mean, how can they put food on the table for $92,000 a week?

  10. savocabol1 - Oct 19, 2011 at 7:41 AM

    Gumble is trash

    • rastaman44 - Oct 19, 2011 at 2:00 PM

      You are an azzhole!!! STFU, douchebag!!!

  11. spunjmunke - Oct 19, 2011 at 8:29 AM

    Way to absolutely ruin your journalistic credibility Gumble. Comparing a comissioner of a league that EMPLOYS people to someone that OWNS people is probably the stupidest thing you could say. Did you think it was going to drum up public support for the players? Believe me, for every person that feels sorry for these over paid players, there are 1000 people who are struggling to make it from paycheck to paycheck. Do you think any of those people care what your precious players make?
    The NFL tried this line too, and they got little to no sympathy from the masses. If the NFL players, much like any other employee to any other company in this country, doesn’t like the terms and conditions that dictate their employment, then they are free to leave and go do something else. Otherwise, shut up and play. They’re still getting more money than they’re worth.

    • spunjmunke - Oct 19, 2011 at 8:32 AM

      I meant NBA players.

    • gostlcards5 - Oct 19, 2011 at 1:39 PM

      Bryant Gumbel ruined his “journalistic credibility” long ago, not with these comments. The guy is irrelevant, and it drives him nuts, so he says things like this in an attempt to regain his relevance.

    • rastaman44 - Oct 19, 2011 at 2:07 PM

      The point was that Stern’s attitude is reflective of a more racially unenlightened time in America. The fact is that Stern does not treat NBA players very respectfully. This is a constant refrain re complaints made by NBA players about Stern.

      Oh, because someone is being paid a salary does not mean that they cannot be treated lilke indentured laborers. NBA players provide a product that entertains millions. Any compensation they receive is based on the money they bring in as entertainment entities. To compare their wage demands to that of the oridinary worker is idiotic and asinie. It is so typical of the WHITE male mentality that this last point cannot be understood.

      • hjack9240 - Oct 19, 2011 at 2:43 PM

        How surprising! When all else fails, revert to the famous “racism” rant.

        Your class is showing (Oh, excuse me, you show no class).

      • spunjmunke - Oct 19, 2011 at 2:52 PM

        When the wages earned by the ordinary worker are the very source for the wages earned by entertainers (athetes, performers, whomever), then comparison is entrirely valid. Without customers there is no business. Or is that too typical of a white male mentality for you to understand?

  12. addict2sport - Oct 19, 2011 at 8:32 AM

    Does anyone else find it odd to see one white man embark upon plantation related accusations against another white man? Gumble is as white as they come. He must be trying to score points with his black family members so they don’t pick on him during the upcoming holidays as they normally would.

    In all seriousness, these type of accusations are a slap in the face to those that were forced to work on plantations. This is such an exaggeration, all to gain notoriety in the media. Gumble, the NBA players, and the rest of us for that matter, have no clue what type of conditions and situations those plantation workers lived through. To suggest that something is similar to those conditions, especially making a comparison when people are making millions of dollars, is a complete insult. Gumble, and anyone making similar accusations, should me ashamed of himself.

    • jimeejohnson - Oct 22, 2011 at 9:11 PM

      It’s like comparing Republicans to Nazis. It’s far from the truth.

  13. planetjenn - Oct 19, 2011 at 8:47 AM

    Second sentence of the third paragraph of Gumbel’s text…the comma after ‘commissioner’ makes it read as though he thinks this is typical behavior of every commish, not just this one. I had to watch the video to clarify.

    This is typical of Gumbel, not to mention utterly without class. I don’t know how he can look himself in the mirror after such a blatant attempt at ratings, whoring himself (and using his race to do it) in the name of sensationalism. I sure hope this boosts his career, as it certainly doesn’t do much for race relations in this country.

  14. nesuperfan - Oct 19, 2011 at 9:16 AM

    Thank you Bryant for proving you are a racist. This is NOTHING like a slave/plantation owner relationship, but rather, just a weak analogy proving your racism.

    There is not one person I know that would not be THRILLED to be a slave on THAT “plantation”.

    • jimeejohnson - Oct 22, 2011 at 9:12 PM

      Like Bugs Bunny and friends in that movie with MJ!

  15. vrsatile1 - Oct 19, 2011 at 9:29 AM

    @havlicekstoletheball – Oct 19, 2011 at 7:00 AM
    Every time there is a white commissioner of a league comprised largely of black players, the commissioner (and most owners) are compared to plantation owners.

    Well when has there ever been an African-American commissioner of a league comprised largely of African-American players?

    • havlicekstoletheball - Oct 19, 2011 at 5:14 PM

      And if there were, and he acted precisely as Stern has, Gumbel would never call him a plantation owner. And you know it.

      Last NHL strike, did Gumbel invoke that comparison? If not, why not?

      • overahighbar1807 - Oct 20, 2011 at 10:16 AM

        Amen! He simply had the hanging curve (the opportunity) in front of him, and he couldn’t resist it……too bad he hit an infield fly.

  16. denverdude7 - Oct 19, 2011 at 9:56 AM

    Bryant Gumbel should resign his position immediately.

    Millionaire slaves? Give me a break.
    No other business in the entire world would even consider a 50 / 50 split of revenues with their employees.

    The NBA players need to realize that our economy is contracting and that they, like everyone else, will feel the impact. Unless, of course, you are a Republican politician. Then it will be business as usual.

    • skids003 - Oct 20, 2011 at 7:39 AM

      No, actually it’s the Democrats who don’t realize the days of wild spending should be over. Or are you still believing NBC reporting?

  17. chitownjeff - Oct 19, 2011 at 10:22 AM

    I concur with Mr Gumbel. The issue is not whether the owners are right or whether the players are. Negotiations are always really tough, and both sides usually entrench themselves. My issue is with Stern’s talking down the players. Effectively saying if you don’t take this we will bury you. A miniature Kruschev who is telling the players that their leadership is incompetent. So.. I’m to assume that the Owner in Minnesota is competent for employing a stupid ass GM who has drafted three point guards??

  18. leearmon - Oct 19, 2011 at 10:43 AM

    Look, I by no means am defending Bryant Gumble, nor am I trying to speak for him, but what I got from his monologue on Stern was not that NBA players are slaves, but that Stern treats the players like his boys or property. There are two totally different point of views. If you look over recent history of the NBA tell me another commissioner that treats the players that make up his league the same way. Also, remember plantation owners at the time, thought that they were doing slaves a good deed. They thought slaves didnt possess the capabilities to live, function and act on their own. They thought they were doing the right thing. As we all know that couldnt be further from the truth but the point is, sure the NBA players make a ton of money, but that doesnt mean they shouldn’t be treated as men. Dress codes, inability to hit the free market, public crucifiction for leaving a team. The list goes on. Again, no one is saying that NBA players are slaves. But the mentality that this particular owner treats the labor is very similar to someone who believes in a monolithic approach to doing business, and that he is the end all be all.

    • jcarne9014 - Oct 19, 2011 at 11:00 AM

      Look, Stern is a complete idiot. Of that, there is no doubt. But…it IS his league and they ARE his players. You could make an argument that many of the players in the NBA do NOT “possess the capabilities to live, function and act on their own.” Dress codes would not be in place if these guys could do it themselves.

      Anyway, both sides are culpable here. The owners have priced themselves into this situation by mis-managing their players and teams. The players are ridiculously overpaid. It’s the fans who get screwed here, but we have done it to ourselves as well…by continuing to support this nearly impossible to watch, sub-standard product.

      I’m a basketball fan…screw the NBA. Looking forward to the upcoming college season.

      • leearmon - Oct 19, 2011 at 11:51 AM

        While I agree with the your larger point, I do disagree with the fact that “Dress codes would not be in place if these guys could do it themselves”. Ive seen plenty of hockey players wear nothing but white t-shirts (which are banned in the NBA) as well as baseball players who wear trucker caps, jewelry (which again are banned) as well as soccer players etc. Yet there are no dress codes in any of those sports. I am not trying to play the “race card” because I have found when anyone tries to do that, the main point of the argument is either lost, or purposely ignored, but tell me why you think that in EVERY OTHER SPORT things such as someone’s postgame apparel is not even an afterthought, yet Stern found it necessary to make a change, and it seems (dont want to put words in your mouth) that you agree. Yes the NBA is his league, no they are not HIS players. Stern doesn’t hire, pay, or fire any single player. Fact. Players are no more of his property, than you are of your employer. H

        I do, however agree both sides are at fault, players are overpaid, and owners wrote the check. But just like you stated its our own faults. We spend huge amounts of time watching games, analysis, post game reaction, reading websites, fantasy etc. The supply of players with high priced contracts and ridiculously high ticket sales would not be there if we didnt demand it. Basic principal of a capitalistic society.

        I am a professional basketball fan, unlike you, I love the NBA. IMHO the best sport in the world. The only place to see the best athletes compete at the highest level. I hope very much that they get a deal done ASAP, however naive that may currently sound.

      • chabotsky - Oct 21, 2011 at 10:42 PM

        To Lee vvvvvvvvvvvv*down there* hate to ruin your point but the NHL absolutely has a dress code and has since my grandfather guarded the net for the rangers in 1927-1928.Watch a game on the CBC up here in Canada some time and see them showing the player’s coming into the arena wearing 8,000$ suits.
        On to my take on this Meatball character..this has to be one of the most repulsive things ever said.I guess because during the NHL lockout it was white millionaires versus white billionaires the dynamic wasn’t right for this fool to make an off the cuff slap in the face to anyone having the audacity to not share the same skin tone as he does.I really hope he loses his jerrrrb!

  19. dumbaseinstien - Oct 19, 2011 at 10:54 AM

    Bryant Gumbel frequently says things are are disparaging of whites. The guy is a racist.

    • overahighbar1807 - Oct 20, 2011 at 10:57 AM

      A WHINING one at that!

  20. caldreaming - Oct 19, 2011 at 10:55 AM

    Gumbel is a pompous, sanctimonious, race baiting nobody. He must be desperate to gain attention for himself and that ridiculously boring and irrelevant show he anchors, which no one watches.

  21. thejaegermeister - Oct 19, 2011 at 11:01 AM

    I think we’re rapidly approaching the point of no one caring whether the NBA is missed or not. College hoops are as exciting or more exciting than the NBA games and are accessible and affordable by most people. I really don’t feel sorry for either the players or the owners – they are both greedy. You’ve got millionaires fighting with billionaires – I’m sorry but i can’t relate to someone making millions of dollars complaining as to how they are being taken advantage of as they drive off in their Ferrari’s to their multi-million dollar homes and trophy wives.

    Most of us real ‘Joe the Plumbers’ are working for a company big or small and making less than those who sign our checks. It’s a fact of life so suck it up or be self employed. I guess these basketball players could always try to use the ‘education’ they received in college in a real job.

    People like Bryant Gumbel (who only got his job because of his brother) and have never played or coached the sport they are commenting on are just paid actors spouting statistics. Their opinions are irrelevant.

    We went a whole season without the NHL and surprisingly – the world did not end, there were no reports of an increase in poverty or out of work workers at the arenas where they played. Why? Because most of the arenas also had basketball games and concerts. So the hockey games, concerts and other events will still fill the arenas and pay the workers.

  22. veta8780 - Oct 19, 2011 at 11:02 AM


  23. dbeehner - Oct 19, 2011 at 11:03 AM

    I want to work on a plantation for millions of dollars a year, endorsements and all the women I could possibly want.

    • rastaman44 - Oct 19, 2011 at 2:10 PM


      • dbeehner - Oct 19, 2011 at 3:35 PM

        OK, how’s this for an alternative: I don’t want to be seen as condoning or contributing to “slavery” so I will no longer watch the NBA, purchase any of their swag or patronize any of the NBA’s advertisers or sponsors. Furthermore, I will petition to have all of those sponsors and advertisers boycotted. If everyone else were to do that, it would be the end of the NBA and would release these “slaves” from their golden “bonds.” Problem solved. Sheesh!

      • overahighbar1807 - Oct 20, 2011 at 10:53 AM

        See below

  24. mogogo1 - Oct 19, 2011 at 11:23 AM

    This should surprise no one. This isn’t the first crazy racial comment Gumbel has made. In 2006 he called the Winter Olympicsthe “White Olympics” and said he refused to watch them because of the lack of black athletes. Incredibly, he said this at precisely the same time Shani Davis was winning medals and establishing himself as one of the best speed skaters of all time–black, white, green, purple…any color.

  25. thridandlong - Oct 19, 2011 at 11:39 AM

    Gumball needs a refresher course in history. In the early 1800’s in Africa, ‘ BLACK ‘ business owner/slave traders SOLD their own race to any willing and prospective buyer’s. It was considered doing business with the goal of making money.

    Never read where the slave trader negotiated 6 year $ 76 million dollar contracts for them with their best interest in mind.

    Mr. Gumball, please heed this advice, it is better to remain silent and considered a fool than to speak and remove all doubt….and take a look at your employer, and the color of his skin. Please tell me that he is an ” plantation overseer ?”.And if he should be, grab some integrity and find yourself a black employer who is willing to pay you the same.

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