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David Stern, Jim Rome interview on lottery turns nasty

Jun 13, 2012, 6:07 PM EDT

David Stern AP

David Stern is on his “ain’t the NBA swell” media tour, having a press conference before Game 1 in Oklahoma City and doing a few other select media outlets.

That included the Jim Rome show, the very popular, syndicated radio show with the man who parlayed that into an ESPN and now CBS television show.

As he has been throughout his last couple public media tours, Stern was asked about the NBA draft lottery and the impression by some — including some in NBA front offices — that it is fixed. Stern pushed back. Here is a transcript (follow this link to the audio).

Rome: Was the fix in for the lottery?

Stern:: You know, I have two answers for that. I’ll give you the easy one — no. And a statement: Shame on you for asking.

Rome: I understand why you would say that to me, and I wanted to preface it by saying it respectfully, but I think it’s my job to ask because I think people wonder.

Stern: No, it’s ridiculous, but that’s okay.

Rome: I know you think it’s ridiculous but I don’t think the question is ridiculous because I know people think that. I think it’s my job to ask that.

Stern: Have you stopped beating your wife yet? [Editor’s note: This is a legal turn of phrase referring to people who pose an unfair line of questioning without facts in evidence, and remember that Stern is a lawyer. Basically, he’s not accusing Rome of actual abuse, he’s questioning he question in an aggressive manor.]

Rome: (Pause) I don’t know if that’s fair.

Stern: Why is that?

Rome: Because I think… I know you read your emails and I’m sure you follow things virally and on twitter — people really do think it. Whether it’s fair or not. You don’t think the question is fair to ask it if your fans believe it?

Stern: People think it because people like you ask silly questions. I expect it to be written about and all. Actually, I commented last night at my presser that there was one guy, who I won’t dignify by naming, who said “I have no reason to know anything, and I don’t know anything, but I tell you I believe it’s fixed.” Okay, that’s good. Why is that? Because if this team won it. But if that team won it it would have been fixed also. And if that team won it it would have been fixed also. And if every team was invited to have a representative there, and if four members of the media were invited to be there, and if Ernst & Young certified it, you still think? “Yes.”

Rome: I think two things and I want your response. First, I don’t think (it was rigged). I’m not covering myself, I don’t think so. But by asking the question it would not suggest that I think so. But the one thing I would say is the league does own the team (New Orleans). Does it not?

Stern: Yes.

Rome: Does that not make the question fair?

Stern: I don’t think so. Number one we sold it, we’re going to close this week. We have already established our price. I think if it had gone to Michael Jordan, which was the next team up in terms of a high percentage, they would have said David is taking care of his friend Michael. And if it had gone to Brooklyn, which is going into Barclay Center, it would have been fair to speculate, I suppose, that we wanted to take Brooklyn off of the mat. So there was no winning…. But that’s not a question I’ve been asked before by a respectable journalist.

It got worse. Stern goes on to accuse Rome of using “cheap” questions to further his career, something Rome took serious offense to as it questioned his integrity. They ended the conversation, hanging up on pretty tense terms not long after.

  1. dadawg77 - Jun 13, 2012 at 9:40 PM

    From the transcript it is clear that Rome knows Stern didn’t call him a wife beater, but accused him of asking a loaded question that Stern can’t answer with out looking bad. This is much to do about nothing just a heated interview.

  2. canehouse - Jun 13, 2012 at 9:47 PM

    While I don’t agree with everything Stern does or says… Rome was trying to be tough journalist guy… if your going to ask that black ops question… you’re going to get a jacked up answer. Stern is very shrewd and he worked Rome over big time.

  3. rasal68 - Jun 13, 2012 at 9:54 PM

    Stern sounded as usual. A condescending bully. I doubt its fixed but his reaction smacked of ” Dont look behind that curtain!” Sterns a lawyer? Really? No

  4. dmb182 - Jun 13, 2012 at 10:27 PM

    honestly, and i’m no Jim Rome fan by any means, but i’m siding with him here. and here’s why.

    As a casual NBA fan, i know two things. One, my sixers are fun to watch, but probably won’t be in championship contention for many years because of the fact that this is a superstar league and superstars beget superstars and we have no superstars.

    Two: The question of ‘fixes’ exist in ONE of the four major sports in america. And that’s the NBA. The referees, the playoff match ups, it’s all been questioned. And very similar to Jim Rome, no, i don’t think that it’s actually happened…. BUT, the questions persist from a lot of people. To ignore that group of people is naive. To insult such a hugely recognized name in sports journalism on a national platform with a huge audience is counter productive to correcting the negative culture that is perceived by many american NBA fans to currently be infesting the post strike NBA.

    Stern, regardless of his knowledge that the NBA is not fixed, should not dismiss it. He’s currently in a position where he should be bending over backward to prove to america that the NBA is a GREAT american sport, and yes, if that means appearing on public national broadcast’s and addressing rumors that are obviously false, then do it. You don’t have the luxury of ‘not even dignifying that question with a response’ as it were. just address the issues facing your league.

  5. boilerup1869 - Jun 13, 2012 at 11:04 PM

    You know it just grinds the hell out of Rome’s gears to hear the commish call Stephen A. “important”.

    • eigglesnosuperbowls - Jun 14, 2012 at 6:30 AM

      If stern believes steven a is important whats that say about stern ?

      • boilerup1869 - Jun 23, 2012 at 6:15 PM

        fair point!

  6. saintsfan83 - Jun 13, 2012 at 11:51 PM

    Maybe im bias cause i’m a hornets fan ,but i don’t think the lottery is fixed for the simple fact we are talking about multiple billionaires bein screwed here an i don’t think they would take that silently. I’m a firm Stern hater but really fixing the lottery to benefit a small market team please now if the lakers would have one than u have a case.

  7. mahhelo - Jun 14, 2012 at 1:01 AM

    I can’t help but think back to the Chris Paul fiasco. Stern couldn’t go more than 5 minutes without stating how important draft picks will be to the new owner. I’m just saying.

  8. muhangis - Jun 14, 2012 at 1:13 AM

    Somehow I think the movie “The Dictator” is a parody on David Stern.

  9. franchise1972 - Jun 14, 2012 at 1:38 AM

    Two huge egos clashed! Stern got the best of Rome. At least Rome didn’t get the hell beat out of him by Jim Everett this time. Rome never learns…

  10. passerby23 - Jun 14, 2012 at 1:44 AM

    I’ve always believed the 1985 Lottery was fixed. There are obviously suspicious clues, but no open-and-shut evidence. There is also, of course, the Tim Donaghy scandal which is an openly admitted fixing of a game. You can’t ignore that. Stern brushed it off by saying he was a “rogue” official, a “bad apple” which is never the case. It doesn’t mean every part of the league is fixed, but there are opportune times for certain things.

    It also makes me highly suspicious when people resent the very asking of the question and try to psychologize the questioner for asking a perfectly legitimate question. A rational answer would be something like this:

    “Listen, let me state this clearly and unequivocally for the record: the NBA never has and never will fix games or lotteries. I understand there is a lot of speculation and rumors out there, which is fine. People have their own reasons for believing things. I can just tell you personally and categorically, that it simply isn’t true. If people have evidence they would like to bring forth, I’m certainly happy to entertain that ‘evidence’ or any questions people might have to try to bring closure to all these questions and concerns.”

    He doesn’t say anything like that. He calls it “cheap” and “silly” when there are good reasons to believe it.

  11. Dan M. - Jun 14, 2012 at 3:17 AM

    Lead-in from an actual PBT article earlier the same day:
    A meticulous planner, everything David Stern says is run through a filter of lawyerly instinct and an ever-present awareness of his surroundings.


  12. jnnyb - Jun 14, 2012 at 3:43 AM

    We need a new commissioner! Someone fair!

  13. nokoolaidcowboy - Jun 14, 2012 at 5:22 AM

    I think this is really about how the question was asked. Is the fix in? This like one of those 1940-s gangster flicks?

  14. pxeeks - Jun 14, 2012 at 5:43 AM

    I think Stern just proved he’s burnt out. I mean referring to ‘beating your wife’ as a respectful comparison to say ‘beating a dead horse’. Not a nice phrase choice!

  15. emaimo80 - Jun 14, 2012 at 7:41 AM

    David Stern makes NFL commissioner Roger Goodell look like a saint (and not a New Orleans Saint)! I was not really that big of a Jim Rome fan, but now I think I may be! Rigged lottery! If not it should of been televised! Also each team should have 3-5 challenges over questionable fouls per game!

  16. southpaw77 - Jun 14, 2012 at 8:20 AM

    State run lotteries are held live. The numbers aren’t shown later on in envelopes. Show the dang lottery live and whoever has the number combinations stands up and say they have the number one pick.
    Basicly it would be a glorified bingo session on tv but this is for possibly a franchise changing player (unless its Kwame Brown).

    Stern going to the wife beating card or calling Rome a cheap thrills artist was weak, I’m glad someone has the stones to ask this guy tough questions.
    The Donaghy incident, the lottery, the horrible playoff refereeing, the flopping, the players like Wade/Lebron conspiring to team up, should all be addressed. If he can’t handle the questions then retire already. Stern you’re the commish of a league, you don’t need to resort to child like retorts, just simpy state why those questions are insane and answer in a dignified way.

  17. cantonbound13 - Jun 14, 2012 at 9:55 AM

    “Have you stopped beating your wife yet?”. Lol!!! Classic!

    • onereasonableman - Jun 14, 2012 at 10:39 AM

      The editor above had it wrong. This question is a classic legal training example of a question that when posed has no possible good answer because either answer suggests that you do, in fact, beat your wife. If you answer “yes” then you admit you beat your wife. If you answer “no” because you don’t beat your wife, the answer still suggests you beat your wife.

      So Stern was suggesting that Rome asked him a question that no matter how he answers, people will not believe. Stern should have just said “no it wasn’t fixed” and moved on.

      I heard the interview – it was odd from the beginning. Rome tried to joke with him a little on the front end (asking how he was feeling) and it sounded like Stern was just irritated.

  18. deiong - Jun 14, 2012 at 11:26 AM

    well wsnt there a saying, shady people do shady things in the night.. if its so honest, why create the atmosphere that it is not honest? why go to great lengths to conver it up and try to make it look rigged. there are tons of ways to remove the doubt that its rigged, yet they choose ways which create the doubt.

    if theres nothing to hide why hide it?

  19. dexterismyhero - Jun 14, 2012 at 11:28 AM

    Rome is nothing but a bum. Not a big Stern fan either, but Rome doesn’t have integrity. And he is certainly not a journalist

    I wish the hell Jim Everett would have mashed in his face completely.

    I am out…….

  20. greej1938l - Jun 14, 2012 at 12:18 PM

    How immature is David Stern

  21. jd3d - Jun 14, 2012 at 12:37 PM

    Honestly, what do you expect Stern to say? “Uhhh, that’s a good question, we are looking into this as we speak.” The lottery is fixed without a doubt. Anyone find it odd that Mr. Benson agrees to buy the Hornets from the NBA and now has the first and tenth picks? We can argue all day about any of the past fixes but there are two other ones that have to stand out above the rest: The LeBron lottery and the lottery the year after Orlando gets Shaq. For those who don’t remember Shaq pretty much was going to refuse to sign with the Magic, instead wanting to go to LA or NY to start his acting and rapping career. Then, suddenly, he decides to sign. The next year, with ONE ball in the hopper, the Magic get the first pick AGAIN, picking Webber, who they then trade to GS for Shaq’s BFF Penny and three first round picks to build around him with. The lottery is fixed without a doubt. Sorry Stern.

    • Kurt Helin - Jun 15, 2012 at 10:25 AM

      So you’re saying David Stern convinced Ernst & Young to commit fraud on 29 billionaires so that he could send a potential superstar to the NBA’s smallest market? To you that is obvious and logical?

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