By now everybody has seen/heard Jim Rome and David Stern trading barbs about the fixed-ness or non fixed-ness of the NBA Draft. Stern has dealt with these issues in the past.
The “Frozen Envelope Theory” suggests that the NBA rigged the 1985 NBA Draft Lottery so Georgetown University standout Patrick Ewing would land with the New York Knicks, who had the first pick in that year’s draft. Conspiracy theorists argue that the New York Knicks’ envelope was placed in the freezer so that when NBA commissioner David Stern reached into a bowl containing the envelopes of all the teams participating in the draft lottery, he would be able to identify the Knicks’ envelope by its being colder than the others.
Rome’s allegations of a fix being in, and all the floating allegations surrounding this most recent Draft Lottery, aren’t nearly as well thought out as those from ’85. Rome asked Stern if the Lottery was fixed, but never mentioned or seem to care how.
Does that change the fact that New Orleans’, a team owned by the NBA for a little longer and already railroaded once by a Stern executive decision, Draft Lottery win is a little suspect seeing as there were a couple other teams with better odds at the number one spot that weren’t owned by or owed something by the NBA? No.
Does that mean that I think the NBA Draft Lottery was fixed? Also no.
For me it comes down to this, what’s the risk/reward of Stern, or anybody else for that matter, fixing the NBA Draft Lottery?
The rewards are minimal at best. Stern appeases the people of New Orleans by giving them Anthony Davis and he makes the Hornets a more attractive team for a would-be purchaser. That’s about it.
The risks, however, are myriad and potentially fatal. If Stern were caught fixing the Draft, for whatever reason, he would invalidate the entire NBA. He would destroy the process by which teams and the league introduce new talent and thus build its work force. He would ruin his legacy on every level.
And unless Stern was a lone gunman, every owner, or at least the high value owners, and upper-level management is implicated. Across the board implications of management and ownership could probably lead to legitimate charges of collusion. No sane person would risk all those things for any reason.
I’d take all of those things into consideration before deciding whether or not the NBA Draft Lottery is fixed. And then, I’d consider the source of the accusations. Stern got in a few shots at Rome for building his reputation by starting fights. It’s at that point in the interview that Rome starts to get offended and a peaceful resolution becomes unattainable. I don’t blame him. All Rome has to trade on is his name and reputation. Those things need to be defended at all cost.
Having said that, he is the man that did this:
To say that Rome has a penchant for getting under people’s skin is an understatement.
As for Stern’s comment to Rome about beating his wife, Stern was simply returning Rome’s unanswerable question with one of his own. When somebody asks you if you’ve stopped beating your wife, any answer you give makes you a wife beater.
Deadspin addressed this made for headlines accusation from Stern in the most cogent manner I could find (courtesy of Timothy Burke):
Obviously Stern’s referring to the loaded question fallacy and not actually implying Rome is a domestic abuser, but would Rome’s audience get the philosophy class reference? It wasn’t a loaded question to begin with, after all; that would be, “When did the NBA start rigging the draft lottery?”
I expect that when all is said and done in Stern Vs. Rome will feature a second round that includes a whole lot of apologizing. David Stern and Jim Rome are both lifers in the world of professional sports. Each man has been in the news before for good and ill, and will be in the news again.
Will this dust up solve the issues that everybody clearly has with Stern despotic rule over the league he governs? No. Will David Stern ever admit that the Draft Lottery is rigged if it actually is? No. Will Jim Rome ever stop being an over-hyped talking head who will also me more bluster and shouting than actual substance? No.
Has this incident really done anything for anybody? No. Here’s one time where we can say, thank god for the 24-hour news cycle. Stern/Rome probably won’t be front page news tomorrow.