ORLANDO – NBA commissioner David Stern began his All-Star break like a lot of executives who book a long weekend in Florida as a winter getaway – attending to work he brought with him from the office.
The fact is, Stern always has a heavy agenda of league business at All-Star Weekend. The more pressing topics this time involve the literal fate of two franchises, Sacramento and New Orleans, and the uncertainty facing a third, Orlando, in the trade rumors and looming free agency of the Magic’s All-Star center, Dwight Howard.
Stern, who spoke with some reporters after participating in the opening ceremonies of the All-Star Jam Session at the Orlando convention center, faced fast and furious questions about Howard, whose whereabouts have overshadowed most of the regular-season basketball in this town. The commissioner wasn’t eager for it to do the same thing with the All-Star events but acknowleged that the media would dictate that, more than him.
He reiterated his position that NBA players eventually have the right, the freedom, to choose their places of employment and cities of residence.
“I’m so old, I remember when Wilt Chamberlain wanted to change teams, and then Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. It wasn’t invented here,” Stern said. “Dwight played for years here. He was drafted by Orlando and he played for seven years. God bless him. I hope he makes a wise decision.”