Posts Tagged ‘Board of Governors’

Defined In Times Of NBA Tumult, Stern Stepping Down In Tranquility

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NEW YORK – The news of the day surprised few, if they had been following along: Starting in June, the NBA Finals will revert to the 2-2-1-1-1 schedule format currently used in all earlier playoff rounds and for The Finals prior to 1985.

In a nutshell, the reasons for 2-3-2 –- commercial air travel by the teams and catering to newspapers’ travel budgets — no longer are issues for the league, allowing competitive considerations about proper home-court advantage to carry the day. At the Board of Governors meeting that wrapped up in New York Wednesday afternoon, the unanimous recommendation of the competition committee from September was unanimously approved by the NBA’s owners/team reps.

The backstory of it all, though, was more compelling –- this was commissioner David Stern‘s last scheduled Board of Governors session, his last post-BOG news conference. Aside from the closed-door, collective bargaining bloodlettings in which Stern most famously rolled up his sleeves, earned his paychecks and made his bones, these meetings of the 30 team owners ranked a close second in crafting Stern’s reputation across 30 years as NBA commissioner and consummate cat herder. (His bi-annual pressers at The Finals and All-Star weekend placed third, offering glimpses of his many moods and styles to the fans.)

But for his finale, it seemed rather tranquil. For a man whose vision and will shaped the NBA over the past three decades like no others, and whose professional highlight/lowlight reel necessarily would be crammed with lockout moments, talk of “enormous consequences,” subtle verbal jabs and occasional fits of pique, the low-profile business that wrapped Wednesday was awfully tame.

“It is, right?” Stern said as he stepped from the platform, playing along momentarily with the “lightning rod” reputation one wag laid on him during questions and answers. Even Stern knows his best (and worst, equally memorable) moments have come during times of the NBA’s greatest turmoil. But this simply isn’t one of those times.

Business is good. Labor peace prevails at least until 2017. San Antonio’s Peter Holt will continue as BOG chairman. Reports at the BOG from revenue-sharing and collective-bargaining committees were encouraging, as Stern and deputy commissioner Adam Silver described them. Arena development or renovations are said to be on track in Sacramento, Minnesota, Milwaukee and New York’s Madison Square Garden. And two dozen or more franchises are on track to be profitable by the end of 2014-15, Stern said, assuming they want to be.

“There are some teams who will not be profitable, in many cases because they choose not to by virtue of their payments to either players or coaches or general managers,” he said. “We’re getting to a point that with revenue sharing, teams that are improving their performance will break even or make money, except for those that are ‑‑ I haven’t looked at the Nets’ balance sheet, but my guess is that they’re going to not necessarily be profitable.  But that also involves large payments to build a building as well as large salary, as well as large [luxury] tax payments. But that’s OK.”

The meetings Tuesday and Wednesday might have been as much about Stern’s fast-approaching retirement as the Finals format or other league matters. He’ will step down Feb. 1, 2014, after precisely 30 years, the longest run of any commissioner in the four major U.S. pro sports. Pressed only a little, Stern shared some of what went on.

“Oh, there was a very warm reception last night at dinner at which some speechifying was accomplished,” he said, “and a series of totally embarrassing photos of me over the last 36 years, and a very heartwarming video that was voiced in part by … Bill Russell, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James. It was pretty neat.

“It was a little bit over the top. There used to be a joke that said ‘My father would have enjoyed it, my mom would have believed it.’ It fell into that category. But it was very nice.

“I got the opportunity to thank my colleagues at the NBA for their incredible work and saying how pleased I was that the league was in such good hands under those colleagues and Adam’s stewardship.”

Silver will take over as commissioner on Feb. 1, a move that has been ratified and contractually set for the past year. No formal baton hand-off has been scheduled, but All-Star Weekend Feb. 14-16 in New Orleans will be two weeks too late.

At the close midday Wednesday, Stern said, a resolution was read into the meeting’s minutes. “[It] was also very warm and thanking me for my job done in the success of the league,” Stern said. “That provided the basis for me to quickly bang the gavel down on the meeting, and my last words were ‘Lunch is served.’ “

The kudos and plaudits will come rolling in over the final three months or so of Stern’s tenure. He has another victory lap or three in him, beginning with Miami’s championship ring presentation on opening night Tuesday, followed by a trip to Sacramento and the franchise that was saved for that city on his watch.

“The game is in good shape. We came off a great season,” Stern said. “Our teams are going to have record season-ticket sales, renewals are strong, sponsorships are up, gate is going to be up. Everything coming off a very strong base is going to be up this season.  Seems like a really good time to do something else.”

Stern has been Silver’s biggest booster to the owners and in the media, assuring them of a smooth transition. Silver orchestrated a little payback Wednesday, commissioning a David J. Stern bobblehead to give to the owners and team reps. Cleveland’s Dan Gilbert later did an interview in which he joked that the Stern doll only shakes its head side-to-side, rather than nodding yes.

Stern told that story on himself, as relaxed and tranquil as he’s ever been in his job.

“Believe it or not, even including my interaction with the media and the burns I [have] from being a lightning rod, it’s been a great run,” the commissioner said, “and I’m grateful to the owners for giving me the opportunity.”

From 2-3-2 to 2-2-1-1-1

Rod Thorn, NBA President, Basketball Operations, recalled Wednesday a Finals turnaround in which the Celtics and the Lakers played on a Friday, flew from Los Angeles to Boston on Saturday, then played a matinee game at Boston Garden. With that in mind, the NBA will schedule an extra day off between Games 6 and 7 in June, if the 2014 Finals go that long.

No determination has been made yet on turnaround time for subsequent championship series, Stern and Silver said, or for the travel gaps between other games in the series. A Finals that goes seven games will require four airline flights between Game 2 and the finale, rather than the current two, but teams these days fly exclusively on charter flights.

Also, the competition committee felt that facing three consecutive road games (Games 3-5) was unfair to the team that earned home-court advantage, as was spending a full week on the road at that point in the postseason. Silver was said to have urged the owners to approve the change, citing basketball reasons over the business reasons that triggered the 2-3-2 approach. They approved it without dissent.

Interestingly, the teams with Games 1, 2, 6 and 7 at home (if needed) won 21 of the 29 Finals (.724) played under 2-3-2, compared to a 26-12 mark (.684) for the 38 NBA/BAA championships through 1984.

“I think there is a sense that it skews the competition, but it’s not backed up by the data,” Silver said. “The likelihood of a team winning in a 2‑3‑2 format of the favored team is the same as in the 2‑2‑1‑1‑1 format.  But there certainly was a perception … that it was unfair to the team that had the better record that it was then playing the pivotal Game 5 on the road.”
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Owners’ Meeting Vote Might See Stern Take 2-3-2 Finals Format Into Retirement

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When NBA commissioner David Stern packs up his office at the end of his 30-year term Feb. 1, the cardboard box he totes out of Manhattan’s Olympic Tower might have something besides the expected papers, photos and mementos. It might include the 2-3-2 Finals format he helped usher in so long ago.

In the last scheduled Board of Governors meeting of Stern’s tenure, the competition committee’s unanimous recommendation to switch back to a 2-2-1-1-1 home/road schedule of games will be voted on Wednesday in New York. If approved, the switch likely would be made beginning with the 2014 Finals in June, NBA.com has learned.

A desire to align the NBA’s championship series with the format of its other postseason rounds (all 2-2-1-1-1), and questions about the 2-3-2’s effect on home-court advantage have been driving discussion of the change. Stern – who took over as commissioner on Feb. 1, 1984 – presided over the Finals-only switch that began in 1985. But air travel snags and fatigues prevalent when teams flew commercially have been alleviated by luxury charter flights.

Both Stern and his presumptive replacement, deputy commissioner Adam Silver, in recent months have expressed interest in the old format. The dynamic of the team with alleged home-court advantage losing one of the Finals’ first two games and then potentially not getting another home game has been cited as one issue. Others see the inordinate amount of pressure on the team hosting Games 3, 4 and 5 – better not lose! – as an alternative bit of unfairness.

For the record, the teams with Games 1, 2, 6 and 7 at home (if needed) have won 21 of the 29 Finals (.724), compared to a 26-12 mark (.684) for the 38 NBA/BAA championships through 1984.

Among other business at the BOG meetings Tuesday and Wednesday, representatives from Sacramento, Minnesota and Milwaukee were scheduled to brief their fellow owners and officials on arena developments in their markets.

The Kings are in the midst building a new facility, part of their push to stay in town rather than be relocated to Seattle. The Timberwolves have an agreement with Minneapolis for a $100 million renovation of Target Center. And the Bucks are seeking a deal with city and county authorities on the financing of a replacement for the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

The Milwaukee Journal reported Tuesday that team owner Herb Kohl, the retired U.S. senator who has delegated Bucks VP Ron Walter to handle recent BOG business, will attend and discuss the report.

Rule Tweaks, ‘Hornets’ Buzz Busy NBA’s Board Of Governors

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LAS VEGAS – And in a matinee clash in NBA Las Vegas summer action, it was Vespines 1, Felines 0…

Actually, that’s just a fancy-schmancy way of saying that “Hornets” is back in Charlotte and “Bobcats” is the league’s latest amnesty casualty, in a reset-by-nickname approved Thursday at the Board of Governors meeting here. The Board also approved five rules changes – three involving the expanded use of instant replay, a tweak to the clear-path foul and a reminder to offensive players to stay within the boundaries of play.

The transfer of “Hornets,” made available when New Orleans opted for “Pelicans” earlier this year, is intended as a reminder of a different sort. The franchise granted to Charlotte nine years ago, after sputtering on the court and at the gate for nearly its entire existence, will try to reach back to happier times by reclaiming the nickname that got relocated with the original expansion team to the Big Easy in 2002. The Board unanimously approved the switch, which will cost the Bobcats an estimated $3 million or more in changeover expenses and take effect after the 2013-14 season.

What’s in a name? Apparently, “Juliet” and the Bard had it wrong. Charlotte team president Fred Whitfield said the costs and efforts involved in this switch will be worth it to his team and its fans. He said the club wants to “grab those fans that love the NBA and haven’t connected with us.”

“Being a former season ticket holder of the Hornets,” Whitfield said, “I understood the energy that came into that building every night. So as we look forward to the future, we’re thrilled that our Bobcats fans and our Bobcat corporate sponsors that have supported us to this point will be able to connect to the old Hornets fans and have that galvanize our community around our NBA brand, not just in Charlotte, but in the Carolinas.”

This has been a basketball operation and civic relationship in need of a fresh start. Whatever obligation the NBA might have felt in returning to Charlotte two years after unpopular owner George Shinn moved the Hornets to New Orleans wasn’t returned with a honeymoon period. The new owner in town, Bob Johnson, didn’t seem to connect with the public much better than Shinn, the Bobcats nickname was a vanity choice based on his first name and, oh yeah, the basketball decisions and performances were shaky at best.

In 14 seasons, the Hornets had led the NBA in attendance eight times, stringing together 364 sellouts, while going 542-574 (.486). They won 50 games three times and reached the playoffs seven times.

The Bobcats, er, have been less successful all around. They ranked 28th in home attendance in their inaugural NBA season (2004-05) and 24th last season, only once averaging as many as 16,000 fans. They have finished above .500 and made the playoffs just once, posting a 250-472 mark (.346) since their inception.

They have been Michael Jordan‘s problem since he purchased control from Johnson, but have more in common with his Birmingham Barons stint than his Chicago Bulls majesty. Insiders say that even NBA commissioner David Stern, after initially dismissing the “Hornets” diehards, began to sell Jordan and others in team management on the value of some nickname nostalgia.

“I sort of laughed at it initially – you know, it is what it is, get over it,” Stern said. “But no. It stayed there, bubbling below the surface, and there is something to it.”

Chief among the Board’s other business Thursday were the rule changes that will take effect for the coming season. The first three involve expanded replay use:

  • When reviewing a block/charge play to determine whether the defender was inside or outside the restricted area, officials will be permitted to reverse or uphold the call based not just on the defender’s location but also whether he was set or not.
  • Replays can be used to determine whether an off-ball foul occurred before or after a player has begun his shooting motion on a successful shot attempt, or before or after the ball was released on a throw-in.
  • While reviewing a play, the officials will be permitted to assess penalties for unsportsmanlike and unnecessary acts that they spot during the reply.
  • Also, a clear-path-to-the-basket foul will not be assessed if at any point before the foul is committed the defender is positioned ahead of the offensive player in the frontcourt.
  • A team on offense will lose possession if one of its players leaves the floor and does not immediately return, unless he is injured, attempting to save the ball or in other extenuating circumstances.

As far as the application and effectiveness of flopping rules from last season, Stern said the NBA competition committee felt they were working well and warranted no changes.

Despite the commissioner’s label of “unremarkable” hung on this meeting in the desert, other topics came up either in the owners’ session or in the news conference that followed. Among them:

The CBA is working: Early indications after 18 months functioning under the current collective bargaining agreement suggest that NBA teams are navigating the rules, provisions and penalties in a way the owners had hoped. “Teams who are up against the tax level or even above it find themselves making hard decisions about what players are necessary to retain or not,” Stern said. “All of which strikes us as being pro‑competitive in terms of the league.”

Not only has the CBA led to shorter contracts and player movement for the coming season, it has boosted offseason interest in the league not unlike baseball’s “Hot Stove League” of winter.

“That’s a huge, huge builder of awareness and gets fans excited, teams excited and I think players excited about what their team reconfiguration is, so that’s all good,” Stern said.

Viva Las Vegas: The resort and gambling destination continues to loom large on the league’s radar. The summer league, a project of particular interest to NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver, Stern’s successor upon the commissioner’s Feb. 1 retirement date, has been a hit, they said, both for the basketball opportunities and its convention-like aspect. “What we’re moving to, in conjunction with Orlando, is a real sense of what baseball has in their winter meetings and where everyone gathers,” Stern said.

Added drug testing (eventually): Enhancements in the league’s anti-drug policy, particularly a “biological passport” concept and testing for human growth hormones, has been slowed by the National Basketball Players Association search for a new executive director. Stern said he expected that they could be added in time for the 2013-14 season.

Sacramento on track: The progress since Sacramento secured the Kings franchise continues with added season-ticket sales and an increase in sponsorship commitments. Reports on revenue sharing and the league-wide credit facility also were favorable. It all is part of what Stern called “another banner year for the NBA.”

Expansion spitballing: Silver said there has been no dialogue with Seattle and those behind efforts to restore the NBA to that market, and the deputy commissioner only acknowledged the potential for discussions about expansion “down the road,” be it in Seattle, Las Vegas or other possible cities.

But Stern, who enjoys dumping expansion questions on Silver, did note that plans for a new arena in Seattle are continuing, after mentioning similar plans in Las Vegas moments earlier. “It wouldn’t surprise me if Commissioner Silver was looking at strong applications from Las Vegas and Seattle in the coming years,” he said, “and I’m going to enjoy watching it.”

Seattle-Sacramento Tug O’War Gets 3 More Weeks Of Rope

 

NEW YORK – Calling it a “wrenching” decision, NBA commissioner David Stern told reporters Friday that the thorny issue of the Sacramento Kings’ proposed sale and relocation would be resolved within the next three weeks.

Which way it goes – the Kings staying and playing right where they are or shifting north as the second coming of the Seattle SuperSonics – remains unclear. And, as Stern told it after the latest NBA Board of Governors meeting, it even has him guessing.

“It’s the only time in the last 37 – 47 years – that I haven’t known the answer,” Stern said, playful with his own timeline in response to a reporter’s question, then turning serious about the process. “No, but this is one that’s just been quite difficult and confusing for the owners as well. And we’ve been working very hard to give it a structure at their direction.”

Whether you believe that assessment might hinge on your view of Stern. Did the most powerful (and some would say controversial) commissioner in sports get that way by behaving like Lady Justice, blindfolded and scales all even-steven? Or is he still the delicatessen owner’s son from Teaneck, N.J., adept at resting a thumb ever-so-slightly on the scale?

Advocates on both sides of the Maloof family‘s possible sale and transfer of the franchise to Seattle interests headed by investors Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer are skeptical that Stern isn’t shading or influencing the process in some way. If both sides are worried that it’s tilting against them, that at least is worth something.

The bottom line out of the BOG sessions held Thursday and Friday, after diligent work by the relocation and finance committees, was that any tilting would matter after the week of May 6-10. That’s when a FINAL final vote will be taken and the Kings’ fate decided.

Why the wait? Those committees will meet again next week to sort through remaining questions about arena construction and financing and about the particulars of each group’s offer. The report they issue will be sent to the entire Board of Governors, which must have at least seven business days to review it. Also, Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson told NBA.com Friday that he thought his group would be permitted to make a final pitch on that city’s behalf.

All of that pushes the BOG vote out three weeks. A league spokesman said it could be held face-to-face again or via conference call. Any meeting might be back in New York or could be held in one of the active playoff cities. Then and only then would folks watching the NBA Draft Lottery know whether the team card in the big envelope said Sacramento or Seattle.

Said Stern: “What makes this particularly difficult … is the Seattle group has done a lot of work. It’s well funded. It’s got spectacular businessmen who support the community behind it, and the Sacramento group has a very strong base of economic support as well.”

The Hansen-Ballmer group recently upped its offer to $357.5 million for a 65 percent controlling interest in the Kings, which pushed the team’s valuation to $550 million. The Sacramento group led by Johnson and investors Vivek Ranadive and Mark Mastrov also have made a bid that, Stern said Friday, is being treated as a signed agreement. Both offers are “in the ballpark,” Stern said when asked about significant differences.

Both have the same negative, too: Neither the Kings’ current home or an NBA return to Seattle’s KeyArena offers the long-term solution.

“We’ve got two temporary facilities that we’re going to be playing in,” Stern said, “whichever way the board goes, and the quality of those facilities and there’s so many other issues and the critical path based upon environmental reviews, potential lawsuits and the like.”

It’s a hot mess, an either/or dilemma that is likely to leave one of the markets – the capital of California or the former Pacific Northwest home of one of the league’s showcase teams – on the outside looking in.

When asked about expansion to Seattle as a compromise solution, Stern said: “I haven’t heard that in any shape or form, particularly when we don’t know at this time what the next television network contract would be.” Remember, beyond dilution of talent and scheduling and alignment concerns, divvying up the hundreds of millions of dollars a 31st NBA franchise would pay for entry would mean cutting another slice from the broadcast revenues in the future.

Then there is Stern’s legacy, which will be sealed next Feb. 1 when he resigns after 30 years. Deputy commissioner Adam Silver has been tabbed as his successor.

Said Stern: “We have expended not only enormous man‑hours but enormous sums of money for outside consultants. This will be by far our most extensive review of anything like this in the league’s history.”

Among other items on the BOG agenda Thursday and Friday:

– Reports on revenue-sharing and the impact of the collective bargaining agreement were heard. “Very upbeat in terms of improving team operations and the competitiveness of the league,” Sterm said.

Jeannie Buss was approved as controlling governor of the Los Angeles Lakers, as the family continues its succession of late owner Jerry Buss. Also, Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert and partners purchased additional interest in the Cavaliers franchise.

– The governors “had fun” with a report on officiating, while formally welcoming former NBA player and league exec Mike Bantom as the new head of officiating.

– A report from the competition committee was educational for the owners in highlighting the trends of increased 3-point reliance – from no teams that averaged 20 or more attempts from the arc in 2001 to a dozen that did so this season, Stern said. That, in turn, has opened up the game to the bosses’ satisfaction.

– Security matters also were discussed, especially in the wake of the events this week in Boston. The bombings at the Boston Marathon led to the cancellation of Tuesday’s Pacers-Celtics game in that city. The NBA will be making a “significant contribution,” the commissioner said, to the One Fund established to aid victims of that terrorist attack.

– Stern said he remains optimistic that human-growth hormones will be added to the NBA’s anti-drug testing program but that addition involves cooperation of the National Basketball Players Association, which is busy finding a replacement for executive director Billy Hunter.

 

Sacramento Mayor Johnson Sightsees While Awaiting Kings’ Fate

NEW YORK – Ran into Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson just before noon on the sidewalk here Friday. He was looking awfully casual for a civic leader whose NBA franchise and claim as a major-league sports market was being bandied about at that moment.

The NBA Board of Governors meeting — the place where the Sacramento King’s future was being discussed and eventually will be determined — was being held in a midtown Manhattan hotel. But Johnson was dressed in athletic gear, heading out for an afternoon almost like a tourist. Turns out he cleared his schedule and purchased airline tickets for the cross-country trek, based on early reports that the franchise’s fate — Sacramento? Seattle? — would be decided this week.

It won’t. Johnson’s trip had turned ceremonial, informal and a show of earnestness for anyone wondering about his city’s commitment. The mayor said his information is that the league will continue to address the Kings’ sale and possible relocation next week, with a BOG vote at some point after that.

“There were no presentations for today,” said Johnson, the former Phoenix Suns All-Star guard. “I’ve been told that we’ll be able to address the board again before a vote.”

So how was Johnson going to spend Friday afternoon? “We’re getting a tour of the Barclays Center in Brooklyn,” he said. “And I’m ‘on call’ if I’m needed over at the [Governors] meeting.”

With discussion but not determination of the Kings, the main agenda items Friday include reports on revenue sharing and the collective bargaining agreement, an anti-drug program report and updates from the international and competition committees.

Seattle, Sacramento Step Into The Ring

HANG TIME WEST – This battle has been Sacramento against Seattle all along.

It’s not Sacramento against itself, because it was inevitable the city would build a new ownership conglomerate and a new arena plan. And it’s not Seattle against the NBA, because the league has been very clear in its interest in returning to Washington state.

If Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer headed the same group to buy the Kings to play in Sacramento, it breezes through the approval process. If any city other than Seattle is trying to poach the team – Anaheim, Las Vegas, Virginia Beach – Sacramento mounts a successful comeback victory and probably wins easy.

Sacramento against Seattle.

Today, for the first time, they go head-to-head, with both mayors, representatives from both hopeful ownership groups and leaders from both West Coast locations on the East Coast to make presentations to NBA officials and select owners to gather information. That leads into the April 18-19 Board of Governors meeting and a vote on the future of the Kings. And that leads to an outcome that will impact the NBA for many years.

Either a new arena is being built to keep a team in Sacramento or a new arena is being built to bring a team back to Seattle, and there is still no hint from the league office that the win-win scenario in both cities is possible. No expansion, commissioner David Stern said without wiggle room during All-Star weekend in February in Houston, the last comment on the matter.

Every indication is that this will be a very tough call for the Board of Governors, with strong arguments each way as well as counter-arguments and more counter-arguments. Statistical data will be offered as supporting evidence, and so will emotion. The pitches will be so far reaching that Seattle may promote its massive international corporate base, and Sacramento will definitely promote Vivek Ranadive as the general partner of the proposed ownership group that will make the entire league money by broadening the appeal of the NBA in his native India.

There are so many layers to this:

  • If the Seattle bid is voted down later this month – if – don’t be surprised if the current owners, the Maloof family, holds on to the Kings for a while. It could be a few months to step back and see who else wants to play Monopoly now that the team is on the open market, but that would be long enough to have control over trades, draft and free agency. They could still sell late in the summer and give the new owner enough time to draw more than 3,500 fans a game.The Maloofs have not ruled out the possibility of owning the Kings next season. That’s more of a longshot than the July/August scenario, but the family is considering all options at this point. Including staying on and gauging the mood with a new commissioner, Adam Silver.

    If Seattle is denied and the Maloofs sell? It will have to be to a group that will own the team in Sacramento. Again, the Board of Governors vote is about location. If California’s capital city wins, the team stays no matter who is at the top of the masthead.

  • Voting consideration No. 1: It makes sense that small-market owners would prefer competing against the local TV money of other small-market teams. Boost for Sacramento. Except that some owners, from markers of any size, could want the cut of the to-be-decided relocation fee. Boost for Seattle. (See, counters to every argument.)
  • Voting consideration No. 2: Ranadive’s late addition to the Sacramento group, after Stern backhanded the first offer of its attempted counter-strike, is a positive. How much of a positive is unclear. Owners have to at least be intrigued by the potential of increasing the revenue stream in India, and the relationships he may have already built as No. 3 man in Golden State ownership group can help. But the Warriors may already have been in the Sacramento camp. It is possible Ranadive will not swing a vote.
  • Voting consideration No. 3: Stern, who has worked for years to keep the Kings from moving, has lost one of his most compliant voters. The Maloofs historically followed the commissioner’s lead on most topics. They’re clearly looking out for their best interests on this one.
  • Kobe Bryant, dismissing the notion that Saturday’s game at Sleep Train Arena was the last installment of Lakers-Kings, once a great rivalry before the Kings fell off the map: “They’ve been singing the same song for three years. Enough already.” He is sort of right. This has been the Sacramento saga on a loop. But it has never been like this. There has never been a relocation vote weeks away. There has never been a Seattle.
  • One important clarification: When Stern said recently an outgoing owner will not dictate where that team would play, he was indicating the decision belonged to the Board of Governors once the owner had reached a sales agreement. It did not mean the BOG can makes the initial sales agreement. The governors’ power is in approving or denying a deal, not making it. Some people in Sacramento took that to mean owners can simply force the Maloofs to take a deal from the Ranadive-Mark Mastrov-Ron Burkle consortium. Not true.
  • The read at the moment? Pick ‘em. Both sides have precedents in their favor, both sides have strong arguments, both sides have the emotional factor of passionate fan bases. The needle likely moves based on whatever feedback comes out of today’s important gathering, but this is setting up as a little more than two weeks of tension around the league, and especially around two cities.

Owners Approve Grizzlies Sale






NEW YORK –
The orderly and extended transition from David Stern to Adam Silver as NBA commissioner over the next 15 months rightly dominated the news coming out of the league’s Board of Governors meeting Thursday. But that wasn’t the only topic discussed and dealt with by the owners.

They also unanimously approved the sale of the Memphis Grizzlies to an ownership group headed by investor Robert Pera and including widely known minority partners such as Peyton and Ashley Manning, entertainer Justin Timberlake and former NBA players Penny Hardaway and Elliot Perry. The group has a number of people with Memphis roots.

“I actually know that someone that lives in Memphis is called a Memphian,” Stern said, “and I am looking forward to this Memphian who is going to connect this team in an even stronger way to the community.”

San Antonio Spurs CEO Peter Holt is the new BOG chairman, taking over for Minnesota owner Glen Taylor, who had served in that role since 2008. “We are being nice to David, but I want to be extra nice to Glen,” Holt said. “This has gone really smoothly. Glen has stayed in the chairmanship much longer than normal to allow the continuity to be smooth from obviously David to Adam, but also throughout the ownership group.  So I want to thank Glen for that.”

A discussion on accepting ads in the form of jersey patches as another revenue stream was pushed to the BOG’s next meeting.

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Governors Expand Instant Replay, Discuss Jersey Advertisements

LAS VEGAS – The Board of Governors on Thursday voted to expand the use of instant replay beginning this season and indicated that advertisements on jerseys, a revolutionary idea for the league, will be coming as soon as 2013-14.

The board – an owner from all 30 teams or someone on their behalf – approved replays on three fronts, without vote totals being released:

  • Referees will call “Flagrant” on the court and immediately use the courtside television screen to determine whether the foul was Flagrant 1, Flagrant 2 or actually a common foul. Previously, any changes were made following a review by the league office at least a day later.
  • Referees will use replays in the final two minutes of overtime and all overtime to verify block/charge fouls that involve whether a player is in the restricted area.
  • Referees will use replays in the final two minutes of regulation and all overtime to review goaltending calls. Non-calls will not be reviewed because that would require stopping play.

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Future Of Kings, Hornets — And Stern’s Exit Plan — Among BOG Issues





NEW YORK – With labor strife quelled for nearly the next five years — until the league’s hard-fought collective bargaining agreement can be reopened in 2017 — the business of this week’s Board of Governors meeting might seem less pressing than the sessions that preceded this post-lockout season.

But don’t tell that to the NBA fans in Sacramento and New Orleans.

The long-term viability of both franchises was in play as the owners met in midtown Manhattan Thursday and Friday. There also was expected to be discussion of a controversial marketing initiative — selling sponsorship space on game jerseys. And then there is the nagging matter of commissioner David Stern’s exit strategy, which could trigger in a matter of months or, more likely, the next few seasons. Stern has said repeatedly that he will retire before the next CBA gets negotiated.

For now, the commissioner probably would be happy just to shed his owner/CEO role with the Hornets, an arrangement that reached its peak awkwardness in December when he stepped in to reject a trade that would have sent All-Star point guard Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Lakers. Paul eventually was sent to the other L.A. team, the Clippers, amid much clamor and the goal of finding new ownership for New Orleans gained a new urgency.

The NBA has owned and operated the Hornets since December 2010. But Stern said at All-Star Weekend that two possible buyers had emerged; a winner might be announced today, Jimmy Smith of the New Orleans Times-Picayune wrote:

It appears the league might be ready to choose between an offer from a group headed by California swimwear manufacturer Raj Bhathal that will include former Hornets minority owner Gary Chouest, and a bid from New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson.

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