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. Chris Bosh says he was ‘close’ to leaving the Heat in free agency

    Aug 1, 2014, 12:05 AM EDT

    Chris Bosh AP

    Bosh was very close to leaving Miami in free agency,

  2. Klay Thompson, Kyle Korver engage in three-point shooting contest at USA Basketball mini-camp (VIDEO)

    Jul 31, 2014, 11:05 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Lakers v Golden State Warriors Getty Images

    Klay Thompson and Kyle Korver engaged in a shooting contest at USA Basketball mini-camp in Vegas.

  3. Rosters announced for USA Basketball Showcase Friday night in Las Vegas

    Jul 31, 2014, 10:05 PM EDT

    2014 USA Basketball Men's National Team Practice Getty Images

    Mason Plumlee and DeMarcus Cousins will be on opposing teams in Friday’s exhibition.

  4. Report: Mason Plumlee likely to make Team USA roster over DeMarcus Cousins

    Jul 31, 2014, 8:01 PM EDT

    Phoenix Suns v Sacramento Kings Getty Images

    USA roster has more than enough talent, so it can afford to sacrifice some to get positive attitudes in place.

  5. Kobe Bryant destroys some young fans in China in one-on-one (VIDEO)

    Jul 31, 2014, 5:59 PM EDT

    Kobe Bryant Kobe Bryant

    It’s the memory of a lifetime… even if you get embarrassed.

  6. Report: Lakers contact Robert Horry about becoming assistant coach

    Jul 31, 2014, 5:11 PM EDT

    Horry puts shot up Getty Images

    Mark Madsen and Paul Pressey also reportedly candidates for Byron Scott’s staff

  7. John Wall’s goal for Wizards next season: ‘The Finals’

    Jul 31, 2014, 3:50 PM EDT

    Miami Heat v Washington Wizards Getty Images

    Wall raising expectations after Wizards met last season’s playoff goal

  8. Gary Payton on becoming an assistant coach: “I’m getting interested now”

    Jul 31, 2014, 1:51 PM EDT

    Basketball Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony - Press Conference Basketball Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony - Press Conference

    As tight as he is with Kidd, do you really think Payton would choose Milwaukee over Los Angeles?

  9. Bucks sign Jerryd Bayless, Johnny O’Bryant

    Jul 31, 2014, 1:10 PM EDT

    Jerryd Bayless Jerryd Bayless

    Milwaukee, with Damien Inglis in limbo, now facing roster crunch

  10. Chandler Parsons, James Harden patch things up

    Jul 31, 2014, 12:33 PM EDT

    Chandler Parsons, James Harden Chandler Parsons, James Harden

    Like most “feuds,” once two rational people sit down and talk for a minute, everything dissipates.

  11. Kevin Durant says he’s deleting Twitter from his phone

    Jul 31, 2014, 11:55 AM EDT

    Kevin Durant Kevin Durant

    That means he’s signing with the Wizards, right?

  12. Report: Will Cherry to sign with Raptors

    Jul 31, 2014, 11:20 AM EDT

    Montana v Syracuse Getty Images

    Barring another move, Toronto down to one roster spot for Lucas Nogueira or DeAndre Daniels

  13. Anthony Davis steps into spotlight, is Team USA’s lynchpin

    Jul 31, 2014, 10:41 AM EDT

    2014 USA Basketball Practice Getty Images

    “We think he’s one of the top players in the league and we need for him to be that five that nobody has.” —Mike Krzyzewski on Anthony Davis

  14. Referee Violet Palmer comes out publicly as gay

    Jul 31, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT

    Sacramento Kings v Houston Rockets Getty Images

    Palmer to marry celebrity hair stylist Tanya Stine

Featured video

Why can't Lakers have a player-coach?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. L. James (3959)
  2. K. Love (3891)
  3. D. Rose (3673)
  4. K. Bryant (2574)
  5. R. Allen (2286)
  1. C. Anthony (2150)
  2. K. Durant (2054)
  3. B. Griffin (1949)
  4. E. Bledsoe (1917)
  5. D. Wade (1845)