David Stern has spoken to the media several times already, but today, the NBA held a press conference before Game 4 because they had received "so many media requests for responses from" the Commissioner.
Stern convened the press and answered plenty of questions after stating that "as part of the investigation by the independent investigator, Larry Pedowitz, that every NBA official has been interviewed and asked the question whether they have made any calls other than on the merits of the calls."
Stern also mentioned that all officials -- in light of Tim Donaghy's recent allegations -- would be reinterviewed "with respect of specific acts" and that he felt that it was unfair "that our officials now have to defend themselves from allegations by one of their fallen brethren".
Stern did just that though, making sure that the media understood the scrutiny with which each game is reviewed. Some would say, that he fell on the proverbial sword at one point after describing the process (observer at every game, group supervisor view post-game and then a view by an independent super-observer) with which each game is scrutinized.
So it's the most intense system. Perhaps, if anything, I'm at fault for not publicizing and doing more for it PR wise on behalf of our officials. But it's there.Personally, I would call that a superb diversion tactic, even if it is one that is accurate. By laying PR blame himself, Stern pushes the heat away from the officials.
Not all the heat, of course. Many of the questions directed at Stern clearly revolved around Dick Bavetta, since some former referees admitted that federal investigators asked them about both Donaghy and Bavetta last year. When asked if he "had any concerns about Bavetta", Stern replied flatly, "No."
He was also asked how much of the federal investigation focused on Bavetta, and answered in some sort of cryptic, yet pointed fashion.
I don't know, but I do know there were questions about him ... and as I said earlier, the only person now being sentenced for a crime is Mr. Donaghy.But perhaps the best point -- in my mind -- that Stern made was with respect to the role of a particular individual in the working environment, when asked what the NBA was doing to keep the referees from receiving information that could be used for, um, alternative purposes.
But I must say as honestly and as directly as I can, that if you have a criminal in your midst who's prepared to engage in criminal activity, whether it's the NBA, the CIA, the FBI, the armed forces, police departments or whatever, you've got a problem and you will probably be burned by it.To me, that's a superb point. A bad apple, anywhere, is going to do what a bad apple does. Just because Tim Donaghy chose to violate federal law and the rules imposed by his employer does not mean that the entire NBA is fixed and full of conspiracy.
Of course, you can count on the chatter regarding the officials to continue well throughout the NBA Finals (which could end as early as Sunday), regardless of how many times David Stern address the media. But it seems silly, in the midst of some amazing basketball, to keep probing into a situation that has already been more or less revealed.