MANILA, Philippines — The continued worldwide outreach of the NBA with its expanding menu of Global Games was the main topic of conversation, but outgoing commissioner David Stern traveled halfway around the globe to put in a plug for the NBA Development League while taking a shot at his league’s critics from with the ranks of the NCAA.
“The system really works,” Stern said. “Jeremy Lin was overlooked. Some people think it was because he was Asian and others think it was because he went to Harvard. Take your choice.
“But one of the things we’ve done, which I’m equally proud of, and it’s importance will emerge in future years as the discussions about the NCAA and its relation to the NBA heat up, is that we have a full-fledged development league. NBA Development League has 17 teams now and my guess is by 2015 it’ll be 20 teams.
“So I’m very proud of the development league. It truly did develop, in some way, in a little different way, Jeremy Lin. And I think that’s working … So that march is continuing … and as the drum beats that I hear about our colleges not liking what they refer to as ‘one-and-done,’ we have a league in the NBA Development League that will accept players when they are 18 and will do, I might say, a better job of educating than the college programs in which they are.”
Stern paused dramatically, then added, “Take that.
“And you know what’s interesting? That remark is going to be headlines in the U.S., or at least an interesting point, because the world is a very small place. It doesn’t matter where I say anything. I can get in trouble in any country in the world.”
* Stern said that he is less inclined to consider expansion of the NBA in the near future. “I’m fairly sanguine about 30 teams being a good numbers,” he said. “There are some owners who might tell you that 28 is a better number. But I’ve always been in favor of maintaining.
“Maybe there is a time in the not too distant future where the next commissioner (Adam Silver) can consider that subject and won’t consider maybe mentioning Las Vegas and Seattle.”
* Stern gave what has become his standard response about adding teams based in Europe. “Our answer has always been 10 years,” he said. “I said that 10 years ago. It would probably be right to say it again now. I would say an NBA division in Europe is a distant possibility. But maybe I could see it happening.”
* Stern seemed less inclined to embrace the notion of holding the All-Star Game overseas. “We have so many cities in the U.S. that want to host the All-Star Game. Right now, we’re committed to Brooklyn and New York in 2015 and Toronto in 2016 and we have many more candidates.
“To have the All-Star Game in Europe would require rethinking the structure of All-Star Weekend due to travel considerations. But maybe it’s time to think about something like that. Maybe that’s why I should move aside and let a new commissioner have his ideas.”