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David Stern announces his retirement plans

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David Stern announces his retirement plans

From Comcast SportsNetNEW YORK (AP) -- David Stern took the NBA around the globe in nearly three decades as commissioner, turning what was a second-rate league into a projected 5-billion-a-year industry.Now, confident a worthy successor is in place with a labor deal that will ensure the game's continued growth, Stern is ready to stay home.Stern will retire as commissioner Feb. 1, 2014, 30 years to the day after taking charge of the league, ending one of the most successful and impactful careers in sports history. He will be replaced by Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver."I don't know what else to say other than to recite what I told the owners yesterday in executive session," Stern said Thursday during a press conference after the board of governors meetings. "I told them that it's been a great run, it will continue for another 15 months, that the league is in, I think, terrific condition."Stern is the one who got it there, turning a league with little-to-no TV presence -- the NBA Finals were on tape delay in the early 1980s -- into one that's televised live in 215 countries and is pro sports' leader in digital and social media.He has been perhaps the model sports commissioner.Name an important policy in the NBA -- drug testing, salary cap, even a dress code -- and Stern had a hand in it. A lawyer by trade, he was a fearless negotiator against players and referees, but also their biggest defender any time he felt they were unfairly criticized."For all the things you've done for the NBA and for sports generally, I think there's no doubt that you'll be remembered as the best of all-time as commissioners go and you've set the standard, I think not even just for sports league commissioners, but for CEOs in any industry," Silver told Stern sitting to his left on a podium.Stern told owners of his plans during their two days of meetings, and the board unanimously decided Silver would be his successor. Owners will begin negotiations with the 50-year-old Silver in hopes of having a contract completed by their next meeting in April.Stern, who turned 70 last month, became commissioner on Feb. 1, 1984. He has been the NBA's longest-serving commissioner, establishing the league's brand around the world, presiding over team expansion and overseeing the establishment of the WNBA and the NBA Development League."There is no debate that David Stern has earned his spot in the pantheon of sports commissioners. Deservedly, his name and reputation will always be synonymous with the phenomenal growth and success of the NBA over the last three decades," union executive director Billy Hunter said in a statement. "His absence will surely be felt by anyone connected to the NBA and the sport of basketball, although clearly the league will be left in very capable hands with the appointment of Adam Silver as the next commissioner."Seven franchises have been added under Stern and the league has seen a 30-fold increase in revenues. Stern insisted the NBA have a presence on social media, and the league and players have more than 270 million likes and followers on Facebook and Twitter."There are all kinds of other business metrics we could look at that would define David as one of the great business leaders of our time," Silver said.Stern said he decided on his plans about six months ago, having guided the league through a lockout that ended last December. He didn't want to leave until the labor deal was completed or until he was confident there was a successor in place, and both are done. Silver has worked at the NBA for 20 years and been the league's No. 2 since 2006, and both Stern and league owners praise his abilities."A couple of things that stand out to me is that David has been, in my estimation, the type of commissioner that has set the standard not only for the NBA but for all of the sports," said Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor, the outgoing chairman of the board of governors. "We have done so many wonderful things in the organization. The marketing, leadership, the brand recognition, going international way before our times, and David has led that."Taylor said there's been a "40-fold" increase in revenues from the league's national TV contract, and that the average player salary will have had grown from 250,000 when Stern took over to 5 million by the end of the current collective bargaining agreement.Stern was the league's outside counsel from 1966-78, then its general counsel before becoming executive vice president of business and legal affairs from 1980-84. He replaced Larry O'Brien to become the league's fourth commissioner, getting a boost in taking the game mainstream with the popularity of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, and soon Michael Jordan. The league began marketing its stars, and Stern found the desire for them was greatest in some far-away lands.The real explosion came in 1992, when those three headed the Dream Team that led the U.S. to the Olympic basketball gold medal while winning fans around the world. The NBA has gone on to play games in 17 countries, staging 114 international games."He's done a remarkable job," Major League Baseball Commission Bud Selig said at the World Series. "To think of what the NBA was when he came in and what it is today, most people judge him very, very highly."There were rough patches, particularly the brawl between Indiana Pacers players and Detroit Pistons fans in 2004, and the betting scandal involving former referee Tim Donaghy. Stern had already passed off most of the heavy lifting to Silver by last year, but he was the one absorbing the criticism during the lockout for the second shortened season in his tenure.He sometimes appeared worn down during the negotiations, even missing one critical bargaining session while sick, but insists he's got plenty of energy to keep working now."I feel great," Stern said. "I'm enjoying my job, but I'm looking forward to doing some other things. I'm stepping down, I'm not retiring."Stern just recently returned from China, Germany and Italy, and plans another overseas trip next season, and will remain an adviser to the league in retirement on international matters."We just think that his leadership will be important to our future," Taylor said.It's meant everything to the league's past.The league has reported huge increases in ticket and merchandise sales, and TV ratings are at an all-time high. Last season's lockout, the second time the league lost games to a work stoppage, hardly made a dent in the league's business or in fans' interest.But even for Stern, business has always taken a back seat to basketball. He's sought changes to improve the product on the court, such as the elimination of isolation play that bored him, to implementing penalties that go into effect this season for flopping."For the most part it's been a series of extraordinary experiences and enormous putting together of pieces of a puzzle and it goes on forever," Stern said. "And there will always be another piece of the puzzle and so the question is at what point do you decide that, let someone else do it? That's the point that I'm at now."Taylor and Spurs owner Peter Holt, who is replacing him as board chairman, said the owners will work to have a contract with Silver by April. Silver, who served a variety of positions before becoming deputy commissioner, was the lead negotiator during the lockout and Stern has relied more heavily on him in recent years, even turning to Silver to answer questions on tougher topics.Stern said he wouldn't leave until he knew there was a successor ready, and he has repeatedly said Silver is ready for that role. Stern said he would always remain available to take a call and help the league."Life is a journey and it's been a spectacular journey," Stern said. "Each step along the way there are things that you have to do, things that you maybe wish you hadn't done. But I don't keep that list, and so I'm totally pleased and I'm particularly pleased with the transition of which we're now embarking."

Warriors spend day reviewing Rockets' horror show, focus on one area of concern

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USATSI

Warriors spend day reviewing Rockets' horror show, focus on one area of concern

OAKLAND -- Sidelined with a back strain, Andre Iguodala spent Tuesday night “yelling at the TV more than I normally do” as the Warriors labored through an uneven performance before blowing a 13-point lead in the fourth quarter.

So there was Iguodala, this time with his teammates, sitting before a monitor Wednesday as coach Steve Kerr review the horror show that was a 122-121 loss to the Houston Rockets.

“We only did about a half-hour on the floor, mostly skill work,” Kerr said after the light practice. “Watched a lot of video.

“That game was a weird game because we were shooting the ball well and scoring enough to win. But we never had control of it the way we normally have control of a game, with defense and toughness.”

Though the Warriors were hampered by injuries -- Iguodala being out, while Draymond Green and Omri Casspi were hurt during the game -- beyond their control, there was at least one thing they believe they can fix immediately.

They can avoid some of the fouls, particularly those that are mindless.

That’s the trap Stephen Curry fell into, picking up three fouls in the first four minutes. That he was limited to 30 minutes, and only 18 through the first three quarters, had an impact on the playing rotation and was a factor in the loss.

“The only thing I’m worried about with him is just those little fouls,” Iguodala said. “Because when he’s on the court, no matter if he’s scoring or not, he’s making life easier for everyone else.”

Kerr after the game cited conditioning as an issue and elaborated on the subject Wednesday.

“Conditioning is not just physical. It’s mental, too,” he said. “We were not ready, mentally, to play that game, even when we weren’t tired early in the game.

“There were other lapses, too. After made baskets, transition threes for them we neglected to pick up. That’s not physical conditioning. That’s mental conditioning. That’s where we need to get better. And we will.”

The Warriors will be wounded in more ways than one when they board their flight to New Orleans Thursday morning. They’ll have some achy players, for sure, but they’ll also have a 0-1 record.

“I feel like losses have this huge effect on us that usually benefits us,” Iguodala said.

Days after signing with Raiders, NaVorro Bowman expected to play vs Chiefs

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USATSI

Days after signing with Raiders, NaVorro Bowman expected to play vs Chiefs

ALAMEDA – NaVorro Bowman was a sponge this week, absorbing the Raiders defense as quickly as possible.

The veteran inside linebacker signed with the Raiders Monday afternoon and did enough to play Thursday night’s pivotal home game against Kansas City.

That’s a huge plus for a Raiders team looking to snap a four-game losing streak. Bowman should be able to help right away despite being new to the scheme.

“He’s a veteran. He understands ball,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said Wednesday. “We haven’t tried to install the entire playbook, but specific game plans and things. He’s had a good week. Even though it’s a short week, we feel good and he’ll play.”

He’ll probably start at inside linebacker and play the base defense as least. While many have criticized his speed and coverage skills diminished from major injuries, Bowman remains a sure tackler who can provide solid on-field leadership.

Veteran savvy and natural ability should carry Bowman while he masters a new scheme, allowing him to make the immediate impact required with the Raiders reeling at 2-4.

“He is very instinctive,” Del Rio said. "He’s a veteran guy that’s been there before. He understands what it looks like to lineup against a good football team and help us win.”

Bowman’s fresh and healthy, a step above his others at his position. Inside linebackers Cory James (knee), Marquel Lee (ankle) and Nicholas Morrow (ankle) are all questionable heading into Thursday’s game.

He has also been a willing teacher to a group of inside linebackers featuring a second-year pro and three rookies.

“They’re just soaking it up,” Del Rio said. “They’ll ask, ‘When do you lift? How often do you lift? When do you meet? When do you cover this?’ It’s good stuff to have for a really young group.”

In other injury news, right tackle Marshall Newhouse is out, leaving Vadal Alexander to start in his spot. David Sharpe should be the swing tackle in reserve.