By Jan Hubbard
As far as I can tell, there is no truth to the rumor than in the last couple of weeks, people who participate in the illegal activity of cockfighting have been naming their roosters “David” and “Billy.”
NBA commissioner David Stern and union chief Billy Hunter pecked at each other quite a bit after Stern cancelled the first two weeks of the NBA season. As always, Stern was the aggressor.
In a series of radio and television interviews, Stern came across as more pious than any pope named Pius, and the first one of those guys took office in 140 A.D.
It was a look for the ages – about two millennium’s worth.
But it was effective. The NBA strategy has not changed since Stern became commissioner in 1984. In crucial times, Stern is the ultimate PR weapon – a man politically slick, charmingly eloquent and capable of verbally seducing the most menacing interviewer. He’s been doing it for years and he’s done it to all of us, although it does seem that 27 years of verbal conquestshave begun to wear on some critics.
The players, however, were left flailing and countering with statements that made little sense. Hunter responded to Stern’s point about players losing massive amounts of money by saying the owners are losing money, too.
“The pain is mutual,” Hunter told reporters after a union meeting in the Los Angeles area Friday. “If you’re going to inflict some pain on the players, there is going to be some pain inflicted on them as well.”
Well, yes, that’s true. But a check of the last Forbes Magazine list of wealthiest Americans shows 12 – yes, 12 of 30 – NBA owners among the 400 richest individuals in this country. All are north of $1.4 billion, which is not to suggest they have avoided financial setbacks. Blazers owner Paul Allen recently had to put his island up for sale. That had to hurt.