David Stern Pregame Press Conference

David SternNBA Commissioner David Stern, in Houston to attend Game 6 of the Lakers-Rockets series, took questions from assembled media members about 25 minutes before the scheduled 8:30 p.m. local tipoff.

Predictably, most of the questions from the media tended towards the negative (refs, economy, flagrant fouls), but Stern managed to get a few positive notes in there. Here’s a rough transcription that I typed while he was talking:

Q: On if anything’s surprised him thus far:
Stern: Obviously when the Bulls took Boston to seven games, it was surprising, and the dominance thus far of Cleveland has been surprising. Houston’s victory after losing Yao was a fascinating example of how a team can be motivated. It’s a demonstration of how talented the players in this league are.

Q: On the Dallas – Denver situation between Mark Cuban and Kenyon Martin:
Stern: I take full responsibility for the non-league action. I had spoken to Billy Hunter and Mark Cuban … I called Billy and said what went on there was not anything I was proud of, but I thought there was an attempted apology in the blog – which is the way Mark communicates – but I thought some (other form of apology) was necessary. This was not something that I was particularly proud of … It’s a wake up call to tread carefully.

Q: On flagrant fouls:
Stern: I’m depending upon my broadcasters to take care of that. We need to do a better job as well if people are confused, but we would hope that our broadcast partners would put the rule up, understand it and indicate how (tough it is). It’s the most difficult sport to referee.

Q: On what he’s thinking about at the moment:
Stern: I’m a little bit disappointed that the competition committee hasn’t been more active on the instant replay; the other thing I’d like to discover is arena security in the broad context but yet maintain the intimacy, which sets us apart in a good way.

Q: On the NBA this season:
Stern: We had a great year. The game has opened up … It is faster moving. Scoring has gone up, and we’ve worked hard to eliminate the isolation … I want to see the world’s most gifted athletes going at it. We’re not going back (to a more physical style) on my watch.

Q: On economy affecting the league:
Stern: I think I’m concerned about the business of sports, because there’s no business I know that hasn’t been under pressure. Right now our renewals are pretty much on pace with last year … I think we’re going to have good attendance next year. Revenue might be a bit down because teams are lowering prices, but we (will be OK).

Stern: Let me end on a positive note: I think the game looks great. I think the 1st, 2nd and 3rd team All League, watching these players grow coming out of the Olympics, the team has been a joy to be apart of.