Skip to content

David Stern doesn’t see what the big deal is about players leaving their teams

Jan 22, 2012, 7:00 PM EDT

David Stern AP

In an interview with the Orlando Sentinel, David Stern put on the old jousting tights and once again decided to do a little dance around the media. In a wide ranging interview, Stern discussed his relationship with ownership, old and new, the effect of the lockout on injuries (surprise, he says there isn’t one), and most notably, the “trend” of players leaving small markets for larger ones. Stern, for his part, focuses in on Miami, and assert it isn’t a market issue, it’s a sunshine issue. Really. And that Orlando is a big market. Really.

Orlando Sentinel: When I asked you on Christmas night in Oklahoma City how you wanted the Dwight Howard situation to play out, you said, basically, that players who had put in their time in the league have the right to play where they want. They’ve earned the right to become free agents. But lets say Howard does leave Orlando for a larger market. Are you concerned that there will be a perception in small- and medium-sized markets that the teams there will not be able to hold onto their stars?

David Stern: Only to the extent that theyre fed by journalists like you. I dont remember Miami ever being referred to as a “large market.” Do you?

OS: No.

Stern: Stop right there, then. But, now, because a couple of players decided to go where the sun shines, thats now a large market. Well, guess what: Orlando, to my mind, is a large market even though you refer to it as a “small market.” Its up there in the top 10 in revenues. It has actually pretty much close to the same sunshine that Miami has, and its a preferred place for so many people to live in the middle of their careers and after their careers are over. So I think theres a small-market sort of point of view sometimes that people have a defensiveness [about]. But, to me, Orlandos a great market, and it seems to be a great place to live.

OS: With Chris Paul going from New Orleans to Los Angeles, do you not see a trend? And Carmelo [Anthony] going from Denver to New York?

Stern: Well see. But the one thing I can say to you is that the new collective bargaining agreement will speak to that with each passing year more forcefully, because what I also said to you when last we met was that as the new tax levels become effective, there will be a limitation on what any team can add. And those levels actually will hit small- and large-market teams alike, because the question is not the size of your market. Its going to be the size of your payroll.

via NBA David Stern: NBA Commissioner David Stern discusses Dwight Howard, the new collective bargaining agreement and his future in an exclusive interview –

So if Orlando is the same or better market size than Miami (and it is, by most metric counts), and has the same advantages, what is Stern pinning the failures of Orlando to keep its stars on?

But let’s leave that one.

Stern’s a cage fighter and just when you think you have him, he’s not only not in the corner anymore, he’s behind you and you’re feeling an odd feeling dripping down your leg.

It’s interesting to see him in the course of answering the same series of questions deny that there is a problem, and state that the problem, which doesn’t exist, mind you, is resolved by the new CBA. They approved a new CBA and Chris Paul wound up in Los Angeles. Dwight Howard is, in all likelihood, going to be in Los Angeles or Brooklyn next year (outside shot at Dallas, you know, that small township that Dallas is). But what may be more stunning is not just his verbal gymnastics, but the fact that after the lockout and everything we’ve learned… I agree with him.

After years of feeling that small markets were at as structural disadvantage, it’s become clear that there is an inherent disadvantage in the perception of these cities. 18-26 year-old NBA athletes don’t find Milwaukee or Orlando or Utah “cool.” L.A. is cool. New York is cool. Chicago is cool. And while these players want to win, the ability of those cities to draw other great players based on those advantages provides the excuse needed to buy into living somewhere nicer. Maybe Oklahoma City is providing a counter to that. But the fact that Stern is able to justifiably pull that there is nothing flawed in a system where Orlando is set to lose two franchise players in under 15 years is going to be an issue in this league, unless the tax escalations coming actually do have the intended effect. Until then, it’ll be Stern, sticking and moving his way through the same question with nary a blow taken.

The Sentinel does a good job of pursuit, though, and the interview is well worth the read.

  1. worldbfree4me - Jan 22, 2012 at 7:12 PM

    For once I agree with Stern! Initially most players are looking for a payday, as most come from less fortunate circumstances, they will almost certainly sign anywhere for any amount. But once they have made a decent amount of coin, the ring chase or quest begins. And generally the larger market teams such as L.A. who just inked a TV deal that pays them $200 Million in addition, will be on their radar to try and secure the ring see Karl Malone. The Celtics took KG a great player in a poor market, ditto Ray Allen and used their huge pool of resources and cobbled together a Championship Team. The Timberwolves or Supersonics would have never been able to deliver that due to a lack of resources. OKC maybe the lone exception because of their owners huge amount of wealth.

  2. nightrain42 - Jan 22, 2012 at 7:34 PM

    Then why did he block the CP3 trade? Idiot

    • cinnalocks - Jan 23, 2012 at 3:00 PM

      He had a responsibility to the Hornets to get some young players back and they did. It is apples and oranges. Besides why keep going back over the CP3 deal it happened before the season started, he is happy as a Clipper and Eric Gordon is about to sign an extension…… the Lakers got to keep Gasol and Odom….though they traded him away also.

  3. goforthanddie - Jan 22, 2012 at 7:52 PM

    Small market/big market is bullsh!t, they all pay in American dollars (except maybe Toronto, but I’d think they do too). Marketing opportunities will find players regardless of where they play. Sadly, most players aren’t bright enough to get that.
    The problem isn’t players leaving their teams, it’s players being allowed to dictate where they go. Owners had the opportunity to fix that and failed to do so. That’s on them and their mouthpiece Herr Stern.

  4. raidmagic - Jan 22, 2012 at 7:53 PM

    It’s a players choice to leave and play somewhere else I just don’t think it’s right they can hold a team hostage and force a bad trade for the team they are leaving.

    • 00maltliquor - Jan 23, 2012 at 1:05 AM

      Problem is is that they are not forcing anyone to do anything. They are leaving no matter what and it’s the teams that are left scrambling to get the allmighty “something in return”. I see nothing wrong with that. At all. Not in the least bit.

      I personally like it when a great player gets drafted to stay with the team for life the way it was seemingly “back in the days” but fact of the matter is these players are not loyal, and mind you, just like the GMs. See Danny Ainge.

      So what, are these elite players just going to have to suck it up and be great on mediocre teams like Kevin Garnett did until they are deemed old and washed up/useless like, (hehe) Kevin Garnett. Paul Pierce. Ray allen. Vince Carter, yada yada.

      Anyways, instead of getting “played” they play the field and do what’s best for them until that sad time comes when they wear out their welcome/use. Pretty much, it’s what these GMs do but in reverse. I LOVE players in control and sticking it to the man. It also paradoxically makes me sad that it has to be like this.

    • cinnalocks - Jan 23, 2012 at 3:05 PM

      Teams have a choice they could have done a deal last year or the year before to extend and lock him up ….they did not do that so screw them….now he has alternatives and you think he is holding the TEAM hostage or forcing a bad trade. They had their time and they did not lock him up….so now it is only fair that he see what his true value is.

  5. glink123 - Jan 22, 2012 at 8:15 PM

    Lol. I just got into a huge debate with some timberwolves fans telling them that Minneapolis was an undesirable free agent destination due to limited resources. they kept telling me that Minnesota, being the 15th largest NBA market, was a great basketball market.

  6. tag25 - Jan 22, 2012 at 9:23 PM

    Actually stern is kind of right here. LBJ and Bosh chose miami because D-wade was their already and they could all play together. Howard want to go to the Nets because D-Will is their or the clippers because CP3 and Blake. It’s not so much the market just the players that are already their.

  7. bossmangunny - Jan 22, 2012 at 9:45 PM

    Can’t blame players for leaving places like Denver,Cleveland,Minnesota.Im gonna sound immature for this but..imo players want to play where there is a lil more action(women,nightlife,other celebrities,culture,food)Places like L.A.,Miami,Chicago,New York.Where would you want to live if you were a millionaire?

    • goforthanddie - Jan 22, 2012 at 10:55 PM

      Where you live and where you play are two different things. Signing a contract with MINN doesn’t mean you have to live there.
      During the season, you shouldn’t need all that much “action”; even cities w/o pro sports have top-quality restaurants, theaters, clubs…If entertainment is that important, maybe one should reconsider their priorities, in-season or out.

  8. djflav303 - Jan 22, 2012 at 11:27 PM

    The problem the NBA has is making the few stars they have their whole selling point when it comes to promoting their product. By doing that they placed their power in the players hands. What the players might not understand is that just because they are stars and friends it doesn’t mean it’ll work out. And other players are not gonna lay down just because of their name. I’m glad the mavs won last year and I hope teams like the nuggs and okc can prove that team ball will win. The only thing working against them is the officials. I live and Denver, and people might call us a small market because of size but we are one of the few cities that have all 4 major teams and support them well. Melo left and that’s fine, we are better now and I hope that’s what happens for Orlando and NO. The owners lost this league a long time ago. Lebron will never be Michael or even Kobe because he went out like a coward and need help and when players realize they will never have a chance to be all time greats this will all change again.

  9. max20characters - Jan 23, 2012 at 12:04 AM

    Toilet seats > David Stern

  10. tampajoey - Jan 23, 2012 at 12:46 AM

    Stern’s an idiot.

  11. bearsstillsuck - Jan 23, 2012 at 2:04 AM

    So are smaller market teams basically a minor league for the big market teams now?

  12. glink123 - Jan 23, 2012 at 8:33 AM

    I personally think the G.M. and owner have way more influence in how a market is perceived. Portland, Dallas, San Antonio are examples of markets that aren’t considered big, yet manage to get free agents to sign. They are excellent owners/GMs. On the flip-side, Chicago has an owner who has been perceived as being cheap (never understood why, considering he paid MJ $64 million his last 2 years), and yet you can’t name 1 big-name free agent who lists Chicago on his trade wish list, despite being the 3rd largest market.

  13. mister12 - Jan 23, 2012 at 9:22 AM

    Market Size = Paying Fan Support. It doesnt matter the affinity for a team(s), its always going to come down to how much fans actually pay to support their teams. Teams like the Lakers, Knicks, Cowboys, Steelers, Yankees, etc. have huge fan bases across the country that have no direct connection to a city/team. Before this year, few referred to LA as a large market in any association with the Clippers. The owners can only pay as much as the fans allow. New rules or not, big money teams will continue to be big spending teams. Even if the amount may be less, it wont be by comparison to other teams.

  14. mojosmagic - Jan 23, 2012 at 10:09 AM

    Miami has South Beach and hot hoes. Orlando has Goofy.

    • southbeachtalent - Jan 23, 2012 at 4:59 PM


      Can’t argue with that. Hot hoes is an under statement.

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Rose (2926)
  2. K. Irving (2353)
  3. A. Davis (2002)
  4. K. Bryant (1641)
  5. L. James (1547)
  1. K. Durant (1402)
  2. T. Thompson (1365)
  3. B. Jennings (1327)
  4. A. Aminu (1292)
  5. M. Leonard (1245)