Coach's Corner

Odds and ends: David Stern … Drew Bledsoe … KevinGarnett … Rick Reilly … and more.

Odds and Ends: Big Dave Stern -- commissioner of all that's pro basketball -- has a reputation as an ultra-savvy guy, though let's note his rep was made during the halcyon days of the Nineties when the charisma of Michael Jordan would've made my puppy Jasper appear to be a clever life form. With TV ratings on par with hockey, it's an understatement to say the league's struggling. Stern's leadership must be questioned. His strength is this: He's a smooth talking, highly sophisticated, probably brilliant bean counter. Great at putting together Byzantine marketing schemes, negotiating complex television contracts, and drawing a collective happy face on the gasping league. A perfect fit for the Nineties. A bad fit for today.

His ethical, moral backbone is called into question when he allows the disgraced George Shinn to move the Hornets -- a once-model franchise that Shinn single-handedly destroyed -- to another city. An accountant yes. A basketball guy no.

Example two: the first round of the playoffs, only slightly less laborious than the 82-game regular season. Here's four reasons why Stern's pimping for TV has provided a first round with all the drama and suspense of an Ingmar Bergman movie: 1) The natural chippiness that comes from teams competing in a fast-paced playoff series (Karl Malone and Chris Webber, for example, could really start to get on each other's nerves) is stillborn when Game One is on Saturday and Game Two is on Thursday. 2) The natural and impartial effects of game-to-game injuries, an element that adds drama and luck into the equation, is largely rendered moot by these long breaks. You could argue, as Stern would, that it's better to see teams at full strength. And in a sugar plum world this is fine. Pro sports are not, however, a sugar plum world. Injuries happen. Teams adjust and deal with it. 3) It looks bad when most of the Stanley Cup first round is over (and they play seven games!) while Portland-L.A. are just getting ready to play Game Three. 4) The worst sin: Stern's demographically correct but fan-lethal TV schedule, which kills, suffocates, snuffs out fan interest. And why am I so certain of this? Because I'm one of the 10 people nationally who like the NBA ... and I'm not watching. If a potential grudge match like Portland-L.A. were played on a Friday/Sunday schedule, or if Sacramento-Utah, a surprisingly nasty little war, were played out in a week, I'd be there. As it is, I lose track of -- and worse, interest in -- the next game when it won't be played for five days. It's about drama. That's what compels people to watch. Not marketing demographics ...

Continuing on the theme of commissioners, Bud Selig is either a visionary executive trying to repair many years of management stupidity, or a lying, Machiavellian scumbag, interested only in the accumulation of power. Jim Rome did a frank interview with Selig last week, and he answered all the tough questions. Like the answers or not, Selig was convincing. The same questions posed to union boss Don Fehr will elicit, just as convincingly, the exact opposite response. After listening to both views passionately expressed for years, I've come to the conclusion that the "truth" would elude Fox Mulder ...

The sports media is embarrassingly pro anything union. Joyful daily columns and electronic comments about the wonderful early season success in Montreal and Minnesota (completely beside the point of "contraction") allows two conclusions: This collective body of media has long ago lost any sense of objectivity or, worse I guess, it confirms Bob Knight's well-known views about the intellectual capacity of the people who cover sports ...

If you want a brutally honest opinion on the current skills of new Buffalo Bills QB Drew Bledsoe, consider this: New England traded their star quarterback to a team in their own division -- almost unheard of with a quality player -- unloading a pesky 100 million-dollar contract in the process ...

Back to Knight's view of the media. Today I'm reading and hearing how Kevin Garnett is the problem in Minnesota. Like so much I read, I can only shake my head in wonder. Garnett's the equal of Webber, Duncan, Nowitzki, or whatever other power forward you care to name. What he lacks is David Robinson and the gaggle of sharpshooters gathered in Cuban/Webber World. In other words, a sharp front office. There was more than a shred of truth to Bull GM Jerry Krause's often mocked remarks about management building championships ...

Come on Rick, give me a break. Rick Reilly has a nice column in Sports Illustrated every week. This week's column -- about how the luxury box is the ruination of modern sports -- has attracted considerable media run, which seems to fall in with this thread concerning Bob Knight. Though Rick didn't blame last winter's ebola outbreak on the luxury box, he does blame it for the lack of fan enthusiasm at sports events. Please. How many people are sitting in luxury boxes at any game, maybe 500? Five hundred totally mute fans won't make a dent in the level of the other 18,000. He quotes Tim Hardaway: "There's less noise at games now. Miami, Atlanta, Denver, places like that." Ah ha. The operative words here, Rick, is "places like that."

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