Skip to content

Looking back, Stern says “Malice in the Palace” was hardest thing he faced

Nov 11, 2013, 5:19 PM EDT

ron-artest-at-the-malice-in-the-palace AP

David Stern has seen a lot in 30 years as NBA Commissioner. Remember two years before he took over NBA Finals games were recorded then shown after your local news at night. NBA playoff games were tape delayed up through 1986.

Now franchise valuations are way up, the NBA is a billion dollar business and Stern helped market and guide that. He is deservedly going to get a lot of accolades over the next four months.

But it wasn’t all rainbows and puppies — there were some hard times. Stern was on the John Feinstein Show on CBSSports Radio and talked about those dark days and what was the darkest of them. (hat tip and translation courtesy Eye on Basketball):

“Whether it’s Tim Donaghy, whether it’s Magic Johnson being HIV positive, or Ron Artest going into the stands, or Latrell Sprewell deciding it would be a good idea to strangle his coach or Gilbert Arenas bringing a gun into the locker room, I see that as, those crises have to be managed.”

Which one was toughest?

“Each one kept my up in its own way,” Stern said. “But the brawl that happened between the Pistons and the Pacers provided much of the media in the course of that weekend to use the words ‘thugs’ and ‘punks’ with respect to all of our players which to me is freighted with respect to what they’re really saying and brought up visions of the way the media treated us a decade or more earlier.”

It shouldn’t be a surprise that the marketing guru, the guy most concerned about the NBA brand, found that the most troubling times. Pacers players went into the stands to fight Pistons fans. It was a terrible black eye for the league — players fighting fans. As he said, it gave an avenue for those who hate the NBA and their players, whatever their reason, to go on the attack. To paint all the players with a broad brush.

Spreewell and Arenas, those are workplace issues (you can’t bring a gun into your office, Arenas can’t into a locker room). Magic’s HIV ended up with him helping change perceptions about the disease.

But there was no good out of the Malice in the Palace. It was just a mess.

Latest Posts
  1. Gregg Popovich missed games last November due to heart procedure

    Jul 27, 2015, 11:00 PM EDT

    Gregg Popovich Gregg Popovich

    Larry Brown said the condition had Popovich thinking about retirement.

  2. Larry Bird says Stephen Curry, himself in mix for best deep shooter ever

    Jul 27, 2015, 6:59 PM EDT

    Larry Bird Larry Bird

    Bird also says Jordan would destroy him one-on-one right now.

  3. Report: Heat will pick up contract of Tyler Johnson, as expected

    Jul 27, 2015, 6:32 PM EDT

    Tyler Johnson AP

    James Ennis seems on the bubble with Miami.

  4. Roy Hibbert pleased to have a coach who played in NBA (psst: it’s Byron Scott)

    Jul 27, 2015, 4:05 PM EDT

    Miami Heat v Indiana Pacers - Game Four Getty Images

    Center goes from Frank Vogel to Byron Scott and is happy about it

  5. Will Bucks arena deal pass Wisconsin Assembly?

    Jul 27, 2015, 3:08 PM EDT

    Milwaukee Bucks New Court Getty Images

    Key Democrat implies it’s not a certainty

  6. Report: Kings trying to hire Bobby Jackson, too

    Jul 27, 2015, 2:19 PM EDT

    Sacramento Kings v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

    Vlade Divac is trying to put the band back together

  7. Report: Cavaliers sign Matthew Dellavedova

    Jul 27, 2015, 12:34 PM EDT

    2015 NBA Finals - Game Six Getty Images

    Did he accept the qualifying offer?

  8. Pacers sign Shayne Whittington, guarantee his salary for this season

    Jul 27, 2015, 12:11 PM EDT

    Indiana Pacers v Orlando Magic White Getty Images

    Indiana apparently liked what is saw from undrafted free agent last season

  9. Heat trade Zoran Dragic, second-rounder to Celtics

    Jul 27, 2015, 11:25 AM EDT

    Zoran Dragic, Stanley Johnson, Jared Berggren AP

    Protected second-round pick going back to Celtics

  10. Report: LeBron James OKs Mike Miller trade

    Jul 27, 2015, 10:12 AM EDT

    2015 NBA Finals - Game Three Getty Images

    Miller reportedly wanted to leave Cavaliers for a team that would play him more

  11. Reports: Knicks signing Darion Atkins, Wesley Saunders

    Jul 27, 2015, 9:32 AM EDT

    Michigan State v Virginia Getty Images

    Both players to receive partially guaranteed contracts

  12. Report: Thunder, Grizzlies, Mavericks interested in Mike Miller

    Jul 27, 2015, 8:30 AM EDT

    2015 NBA Finals - Game Two Getty Images

    If Miller wants to be on a contender, it may not happen before the season starts.

  13. Gary Vitti, Laker trainer for everyone from Magic through Kobe Bryant, to retire after next season

    Jul 27, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    Los Angeles Lakers v Dallas Mavericks Getty Images

    If he ever writes a biography of his time with the team, that will be a must read.

  14. Report: Cavaliers trade Brendan Haywood, Mike Miller, two second-round picks to Portland

    Jul 27, 2015, 12:45 AM EDT

    Milwaukee Bucks v Cleveland Cavaliers Milwaukee Bucks v Cleveland Cavaliers

    The Trail Blazers will waive Haywood and Miller very soon, and both will try to hook on with a contender.

Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. S. Curry (3615)
  2. K. Bryant (3394)
  3. K. Durant (2864)
  4. L. James (2397)
  5. J. Fredette (2354)
  1. T. Hansbrough (2283)
  2. T. Lawson (2258)
  3. B. Haywood (2089)
  4. C. Copeland (2033)
  5. A. Davis (2032)