In Defense of David Stern

Published: December 11, 2011

I woke up today to find myself wondering why in the world I’m angry with David Stern, the owner. Here’s a guy who has done just about everything he can to ensure that the New Orleans Hornets get on financially sound footing. He took the unprecedented step of taking control of the team from a private owner in order to keep them in New Orleans, something that was unlikely to seriously even be considered had Shinn sold to the highest bidder, which he presumably would have. Even now, if Stern wanted, he could probably sell the team for upwards of 400 million to someone looking to move them elsewhere.

Yet he doesn’t.

Stern’s decision to veto the trade, assuming it was done as an owner, is not at all unprecedented. It’s not at all shocking or outrageous. Perhaps the most amazing part of it all is simply that the trade was so publicly discussed before it had the approval of the real Hornets decision maker, the NBA. This was more of a communication issue than anything else, one that really should have been dealt with and clarified long ago.

Stern said that Sperling and Weber were the guys running the show and that if they approved of a deal, the league would also.  The Hornets moved forward with the trade without Stern actually saying “Sounds good” because the local brass thought it was their right to do that. Hell, they were pretty much told it was their right to do that. It’s an unusual situation because it appears that neither party was on the same page in terms of the actual protocol for trading players. Normally GM’s go to owners before accepting a deal with another team.

The problem is obviously that there is technically no one owner. There is a governor, a president, a GM, a commissioner, and an NBA, but no real traditional owner. So if you’re going to be mad at Stern, do it for him not explaining to anyone that he’s the Hornets owner and that he has final say.

So let’s go from there. Stern is the de facto owner.

Now that we know he’s in charge, can we really be mad at him for vetoing the deal? Yes and no, but that doesn’t matter. If he’s the damned owner, he can do whatever he wants. He can veto a deal because he doesn’t like the style of an incoming player’s hair. He can refuse make a trade because it’s a Tuesday and he doesn’t like deals that originate on Tuesdays.

In this case, I presume he didn’t make the deal because there was no young budding star or near-certain high draft picks incoming. The Hornets would have been OK on the court for a few years, but it would have been next to impossible for them to get to championship caliber without getting flat out lucky in the draft. There was nobody sexy to sell fans on either this year or next, and because of that, Stern decided that even though talent-wise the Hornets probably got a lot more than they gave back, it still wasn’t the right deal for a franchise about to be re-born.

Odom was a bit of a wild card in the deal since he was likely to be dealt for something better at some point, but who needs a player like Odom except a contender? What contender has either a young star or a lottery pick in the next draft to give up? Maybe the Clippers, but if they were hesitant to deal that pick for Paul, they might not be so inclined to do it for Odom, either.

In my opinion, those are the “basketball reasons” that Stern was referring to when he rejected the trade.

David Stern and Chris Paul are probably the two people who deserve to be patted on the back most for keeping a team in New Orleans that most of America predicted would be gone years ago. They went above and beyond what they were obligated to do for this city, yet ironically they are among the two most hated people in New Orleans right now.

Wake up, Hornets fans. These are still the good guys.


  1. RobertM320

    December 11, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    Stern, yes. Paul, no. A 26 year old multi-millionaire looks for the easy way out rather than trying to create his own legacy. Its a sign of this generation. They really don’t want to have to WORK to succeed. Chris is already successful as a player. But a championship ring won by stockpiling a dream team isn’t near as sweet as one built from the ground up as a TEAM.

    Good luck, Chris. Thanks for the fun memories. I hope you never win a championship.

    • Simon

      December 11, 2011 at 5:49 pm

      Jealous much?

      Cp has no chance of winning as the hornets currently stand. Why should he stick around with a franchise that can’t win with him rather than going somewhere where he has a chance?

      He’s given them a few years and they wasted the chance. There are only so many superstars going around. Unfortunately, there are way more teams. Look at your hero’s who “did it alone”. 99% of them had another hall of famer alongside them.

    • Joe P

      December 11, 2011 at 7:37 pm

      Let’s not fetishize “WORK.” Paul works as hard or harder as anyone else. It has to do with integrity or “selling out” as the kids say. Paul really does want to “WORK” to win a championship, but he doesn’t want to fall on his sword by stabilizing the basketball situation here in N.O. Paul signing an extension like Pierce, Duncan, Garnett for a while, probably Durant, and many top tier players before him would keep the Hornets relevant, help the league image, competitive balance, and therefore the sport as a whole. So his choice is between the greater good and personal winning.

      It is a generational statement. Young Americans ARE willing to “WORK” long and hard, but not for the greater good. Why are they willing to “WORK”? Winning, duh. The kids these days put personal, individual achievement over society or community. “WORK” without selflessness isn’t all that great. I rather have a neighbor who is a moderate worker who cares about others that a self centered hard worker.

      Paul will be a hall of famer with or without a ring. It doesn’t seem unrealistic that with him, the Hornets could put together a contender sooner rather than later. With him bolting… not so much.

  2. 504ever

    December 11, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    Stern was a good guy. But now, with it looking like we will get fewer and worse players than the LA/Houston deal, Stern may be crippling the franchise to prove a point about the CBA. That’s not good.

  3. Jmax

    December 11, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    Stern needs to go. Every move he makes is just trying to flex to show how much he can screw you over! Why wouldn’t Paul want to leave New Orleans? They don’t have a basketball market to support a team. The team should be dissolved if no one wants it.

    • Jason Calmes

      December 11, 2011 at 1:02 pm

      What about the season ticket base increasing by almost 4,000 in the offseason? That means 10,000 butts in the seat for every game, or at least people willing to pay for that right. With a historical 8,000 level for other tickets, that puts us at,say . . . 16,000+ for most games, assuming some of the walk-ups turned into season tickets.

      Let’s talk more about this

      • RobertM320

        December 11, 2011 at 4:27 pm

        Selling 4000 additional season tickets DURING a lockout? I’ll bet that wouldn’t even happen in LA, NY or Dallas. Give our people props, Jmax. We EARNED this.

    • CarnbY

      December 11, 2011 at 1:08 pm

      “They don’t have a basketball market to support a team” ?
      What’s that supposed to mean? The Hornets sold 10k season tickets in a lockout season. Soon they’ll have a real owner and a new lease. If you don’t know what you’re talking about please stfu

  4. da ThRONe

    December 11, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    No need to defend Stern here. This trade would have left us mediocre for years. We shouldn’t trade Paul for anything other than young talent and potentially high draft picks. Not a bunch of above average players.

    I’d rather get nothing and have Paul lose out on millions than sign and trade just to get something.

    • notoriousBEE

      December 11, 2011 at 2:15 pm

      The Lakers trade would have left us with a competitive lineup and 3 trade worthy pieces. Do you think Dell would have had any problem moving Odom, Scola, or K-Mart for picks or young pieces near the trade deadline? Stern has crippled the hornets this year and beyond. He has sacrificed the future of the hornets organization and undermined our front office to make a point. It’s disgusting. and I’m furious with this bonehead move.

      CP3 is equally guilty. Turns out the guy is a self-centered ego maniac, just like Lebron and Melo. Don’t think for a second that he gives a damn about the hornets organization or the hornets fans. As long as he gets what he wants, he couldn’t care less about the collateral damage. The sooner we get rid of this guy, the better. Good riddance. Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.

      • edbballin504

        December 11, 2011 at 2:51 pm

        Beautifully said! Like you said, we obtained assets that we either keep to have a decent team in the playoffs, or we send away one by one for picks or young players.

        Instead we are left with an unhappy star that will give a half effort all season (wouldnt be surprised if CP3 gets “injured” this season and out for weeks if not months), with a bunch of D leaguers. You think the 10k season ticket holders wanna see that?? We won’t even make the playoffs this season with this roster. Who’s our starting PF??

        Basically I see it as the NBA has said thanks NOLA for your money (10k STHs). “The NBA, where fans get screwed happens.”

      • NOS-3rd Gen

        December 11, 2011 at 3:58 pm

        I don’t really blame any of this on Paul, b/c Paul had no control of this. Its the NBA and Commissioner Stern’s fault . and none of this F’N’ S&!% would’ve happened if we had an Owner!!!!! think about we could’ve got rid of Paul get above Average Players, and get 3 dP for Next year’s Draft (Our 1st & 2nd w/Hou 1st). Now our team is screwed No one will do business w/ us. and we have a lame Line-up unless we can grab NeNe, and Jamal Crawford, Trade “Big Oak” for a cheaper but yet talented Center, but then again if Demps does get any of these player the League would just screw us all over again. Like I said we can’t do anything as long as we don’t have a owner

      • da ThRONe

        December 11, 2011 at 7:09 pm

        I’m not sure what Demps can get for those players. I’d rather not assume he can pull off deals rather deal with the situation at hand. So what happens if we can’t trade said players for high draft picks and young talent then what? We’re stuck with a mediocre team that a 7th seed at best, and still no selling piece.

        When you trade the franchise greatest player you should be looking to rebuild. This deal relys on to many other pieces to fall in place in order to make sense.

  5. Mark

    December 11, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    We all want to believe in fairness with sports. That said, the feeling of investment with “your” team creates the desire that the team’s operations are autonomous within a governing body ensuring equality (which we all know is not true, but we hold on to that ideal). The NBA’s “purchase” of the Bees blurs that line, which is why I think we’re so indignant at the whole situation.

    At least it’s unifying NBA fans, if negatively.

  6. sundance

    December 11, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    First and foremost Stern represents the owners and by default is the owner of the Hornets. I applaud the guy for not taking the easy route after Shinn bailed, but you’re naive to think “basketball reasons” is the reason for this non-trade and he’s kept the best interests of the Hornets at heart. Stern cannot be impartial when he has dual roles; isn’t that the reason Sperling is around?

    If Demps quits the Hornets because of this debacle (cuckolding the guy not once but twice), I question your defense of Stern.

    • Joe Gerrity

      December 11, 2011 at 3:20 pm

      Demps laughed it off when asked if he considered quitting. Rumors that he did are untrue… according to him.

      Remember, guy was #4 in SA. Not many GM jobs open elsewhere, either…

      • sundance

        December 11, 2011 at 3:54 pm

        I hope he doesn’t, he’ll figure out a way.

  7. J

    December 11, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    Edited Out by 42

    J. This is twice in just a handful of days.

    Next time, you are gone.

    • notoriousBEE

      December 11, 2011 at 3:29 pm

      Edited Out by 42

      You are right, BEE, but I wanted to kill even the hints of this and squash any retribution.


  8. J

    December 11, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    Sorry about the remark.So it’ll be 60 to 100 days til we get an owner will they ever have a list of people who are interested in buying the team? because to some people eyes it’s 1979 all over again

    • Jason Calmes

      December 11, 2011 at 3:46 pm

      No list.

      I know there is at least one local potential principal owner who’s in in the mix along with at least one from out of town. This is not including any number of people who may end up with small stakes in the team to complete the deal.

  9. J

    December 11, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    If Paul stays the value of the team would be $300 million but if Paul is traded $250 million or less because the Hawks are still on the market and it’s valued at $190 million

    • Jason Calmes

      December 11, 2011 at 4:02 pm

      I think those numbers are low.

      The Hawks are worth way more than that. That number doesn’t include taking over debt the team has. There is more to a transaction than the cash that’s pushed across the table.

      Also, I don’t think the selling price will have anything to do with Chris Paul. Any owner with eyeballs wouldn’t pay more for the opportunity to pay a player more before he walks out of the door.

      The biggest factors are public support (think taxes), cable deal (being renegotiated and will be worth millions more), season tickets (we are in the top 1/3 of the NBA, and an Arena (the NBA moved to this Arena twice i the past 10 years . . . they like it).

  10. J

    December 11, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    You couldn’t contract a team if it’s finances is straight out thanks to Jac Sperling.

  11. Jason

    December 11, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    I feel like some of you guys are missing the point starting with the trade was horrible. Everyone is focusing on the “veto”, but the trade itself was horrible. I’ve been a hornets fan since I was 6. And we have always been on the cusp of being relevant, but never actually relevant. Every star we’ve ever had has left (Larry Johnson, Alonzo, Glen Rice, Baron Davis). People forget that we traded Kobe Bryant for Vlade Divac. People forget that we could have been a contender until Jamal Mashburn got vertigo and Baron Davis kept getting freak injuries. I’m over it. You either try to build a contender or you scrap and start over. No need to be mediocre for a few more years. How did we end up with Odom instead of Gasol. Odom had no value to the Lakers (they just gave him up for nothing almost). And you guys are overvaluing every piece we received. Odom, K-Mart, and Scola have little to no real trade value.

    A starting point to even discussing a trade was Curry or Eric Gordon and an extra piece. Russell Westbrook is close to equal value. Even better would be getting a couple of lottery picks instead (but who has lottery picks they can trade). If we can’t get any of that, I’d rather sit CP3 all year, tank, and get a top 5 pick next year in the draft and start rebuilding that way. At the end of the day, there are three ways to win in the NBA. Big Free Agency signing, trade for really great assets, or draft a few lottery picks that pan out. Unfortunately, when you are in a small market, the first two options are unlikely. I think Demps should have tried harder to sign Chandler or even get Odom the way the Mavericks did. If we had added Odom and Chandler we could have perhaps kept CP3 long term.

    I think the Hornets are at a crossroads, but they need to be thinking about the next 5-10 years and not just how to salvage this upcoming year.

    • Joe Gerrity

      December 11, 2011 at 4:13 pm

      Good points. I agree.

    • MaskedTalent

      December 12, 2011 at 7:47 pm


  12. J

    December 11, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    I’ve this trade idea it involves the Hornets-Raptors-Grizzlies

    The Hornets get: Andrea Bargnani,Jose Calderon and the Raptors 1st rd lottery pick and O.J Mayo and Darrell Arthur

    The Grizzlies get Okafor

    • cmac81

      December 11, 2011 at 5:46 pm

      100% no. Bargnani and Calderon are two of the most overpaid players in the NBA. Neither can play D and they are on the books for so much money, especially Bargnani who still has 4 years left.

    • NOH Domination

      December 11, 2011 at 6:43 pm

      lol do the raptors get a player or are they just giving them away?

  13. J

    December 11, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    If we was to trade for Westbrook we would be helping the thunder be dynasty but at the same time Westbrook be willing to be extened with the Hornets we can rebulid within a year.

    • RobertM320

      December 11, 2011 at 4:42 pm

      At this stage, my question is, would ANY player sign an extension with the Hornets? Even if you get someone like a Westbrook or Calderon in a trade, would they even consider signing an extension when their time comes, or would they walk too?

  14. J

    December 11, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    I’ve this trade with the Hornets-Thunder-Nuggets

    Hornets get: Westbrook,Sefolosha,Nick Collinson,Eric Maynor and Thunder 2012 1st rd pick.Chirs Andersen and the 2012 Nuggets 1st rd pick

    Thunder get: CP3

    Nuggets get: Okafor

    • Jason Calmes

      December 11, 2011 at 5:29 pm

      Golden State just used thier amnesty on the expiring $4m contract of Charlie Bell.

      It’s a sign of a deal they want to make. What is it? Hmmmm….

  15. J

    December 11, 2011 at 5:35 pm

    I’ve a trade Celtics-Hornets-Bucks

    The Hornets get Brandon Jennings,Elyasova,Carlos Delfino and the Bucks 2012 1st rd pick.Jeff Green,Avery Bradley,JaJuan Johnson and the Celtics 2013 1st rd and 2014 1st rd picks

    The Bucks get Rondo

    The Celtics get CP3

  16. J

    December 11, 2011 at 5:38 pm

    @Jason. Charlie Bell went to court recently drunk on a DWI case no way chief.We had enough with that with Jack

    • Jason Calmes

      December 11, 2011 at 5:42 pm

      Not what I meant.

      They are trying to sign Jordan. If they get him, will that inspire a trade here for Chris or will they be sated? Jordan can only be included in a deal done just before the trade deadline.

      • cmac81

        December 11, 2011 at 5:44 pm

        Beat me to it..

    • cmac81

      December 11, 2011 at 5:44 pm

      He’s not talking about picking up Bell dude, he’s talking about how the Warriors are making room to maybe take on some salary for a potential move…

  17. Simon

    December 11, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    Clips are gonna match that offer from GSW though.
    I think the only reason they would do that would be if they are willing to give up Gordon for CP.
    Think about salaries with the signing of Butler. There’s no way they can feasibly extend both Gordon and Griffin if they trade for CP. Their roster (by contract per position) would look something like this. 15/3?/8/15/10
    That’s 51 mil right there and I imagine CP will get more than 15 and have gone conservative at the 2. Not to mention mo williams contract so they’ll either have to amnesty him or trade him for a decent bench player and some front court toughness/size. He’s on about 19 mil over the next two years so no way they can afford to keep him either.
    Apparently CP said something along the lines of being more willing to sign for the Clips long term if they kept jordan. He hasn’t mentioned Gordon and they’re not gonna get a better sign and trade offer next season than getting CP this season for him.

    That would open up a trade of something like Gordon + Kaman + minny’s pick and maybe the Clips pick for CP. That’d be pretty handy as we could move Kaman on to someone (apparently 3/4 teams have shown an interest in picking him up for the year) for a young asset/pick.
    Only problem, off the top of my head I think all the teams who were interested were contender level.

    Anywho, I’d be happy with that trade.

    Also, anyone who thinks CP would only half-play if he doesn’t get traded clearly hasn’t seen him play basketball before. Ever. if he sticks around we are a high 30’s/40 win team which is exactly where we don’t want to be..

    • Simon

      December 11, 2011 at 6:04 pm

      I just re-read my post and realised I used the wrong there. Sometimes I disgust myself :p

      ((fixed it for you))

  18. J

    December 11, 2011 at 6:57 pm


  19. J

    December 11, 2011 at 7:00 pm

    CP3 said that the clippers is his choice

  20. J

    December 11, 2011 at 7:15 pm

    The Clippers are ready to trade for CP3

    The Hornets will get Eric Gordon,Eric Bledsoe,Al Aminu,Chris Kaman and 2 st rd picks.I hope by monday night this trade be done

  21. J

    December 11, 2011 at 7:24 pm

    Okafor could be traded to the Pistons or Nuggets

  22. usufruct

    December 11, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    I’ll reserve judgment until I see how the CP3 trade goes. If we end up getting anything less than the Lakers deal, I’ll blame Stern. If that happens, it’ll erase all goodwill I have for the guy. But at this point his position is so fraught with conflicts of interest, it’s impossible to say where his loyalties lie.

    J, we will only get Gordon if cp3 agrees to opt in for a second year. That much of our fate is in his hands.

  23. J

    December 12, 2011 at 1:08 am

    What i’ve heard from players like CP3 & D12 “I want to win” theres no i in team whatever happen to a player who wants their whole team to win and not namely themselves.With D12 he wants his current team to bulid a winner around him but GM’s like Otis Smith at the end of the day they become patsies because they take the heat for their owners and eventully get fired by their bosses.When they said build around such and such it all about making him happy in today’s NBA it’s about pleasing the disgruntal player and not the fan base.A tight unit called a team should be united in brotherhood reguardless of the circumstances but we’re not seeing this right now.As players hired sports agents that live off the Don King complex of manipulating their clients that their team is not making them happy and once things go south you must jump ship.They need to grow up and be a man and get used to reality.Once CP3 is traded you think he’ll have a one full page of the newspaper saying thanks to the Hornets organization and fans no because Leon Rose say so.

  24. J

    December 12, 2011 at 7:02 am

    at least we’re getting that 1st rd pick and players they can flipped

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