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David Stern: 'plantation overseer?'

Bryant Gumbel attending the premiere of 'The Road'

Bryant Gumbel attending the premiere of 'The Road' in New York. Gumbel says he's recovering from cancer surgery. Credit: AP

Bryant Gumbel had some blunt, inflammatory words for NBA commish David Stern at the end of his "Real Sports" show on HBO Tuesday night, accusing him of being "eager to be viewed as some kind of modern plantation overseer treating NBA men as if they were his boys."

Oh, my.

Here is the rest of his closing commentary:

"Finally tonight, if the NBA lockout is going to be resolved any time soon, it seems likely to be done in spite of David Stern, not because of him.  I say that because the NBA’s infamously egocentric commissioner seems more hell-bent on demeaning the players than resolving his game’s labor impasse.

"How else to explain Stern’s rants in recent days?  To any and everyone who’d listen, he has alternately knocked union leader Billy Hunter, said the players were getting inaccurate information, and started sounding chicken-little claims about what games might be lost if the players didn’t soon see things his way.

"Stern’s version of what’s been going on behind closed doors has, of course, been disputed.  But his efforts were typical of a commissioner, who has always seemed eager to be viewed as some kind of modern plantation overseer treating NBA men as if they were his boys.  It’s part of Stern’s M.O.  Like his past self-serving edicts on dress code or the questioning of officials, his moves are intended to do little more than show how he’s the one keeping the hired hands in their place.

"Some will, of course, cringe at that characterization, but Stern’s disdain for the players is as palpable and pathetic as his motives are transparent.  Yes, the NBA’s business model is broken, but to fix it, maybe the league’s commissioner should concern himself most with a solution, and stop being part of the problem.”

Now, watch him speak all those words in case you want to see his intonation and delivery.


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