Banking baskets: Don’t bet against Stern on this latest gamble

Joel Huerto is the editor of OneManFastBreak.net and was a news editor at the Los Angeles Times.

When it comes to governing a major professional sports league, nobody is as efficient and calculated as David Stern. For more than 25 years as NBA commissioner, he has been able to manipulate situations in order to stimulate his billion-dollar empire.

He has presided over the two most successful decades in the history of the league, earning him the right to opine on just about anything, and that includes the forbidden world of sports betting.

But why would the image-conscious Stern even broach the subject of wagering on NBA games with the Tim Donaghy incident still hanging over his head?

Whatever the reasons may be, Stern believes it is worth the gamble.

The fact that The Commish is even willing to openly talk about the subject is a clear indication that he is warming up to the idea of legalized sports betting, having gained enough knowledge about the gaming business with a big assist from the Maloof family, owners of the Sacramento Kings and Palms Resort & Casino in Las Vegas.

In Stern's view, it’s a win-win situation. First of all, it taps into an entirely new market for the NBA to grow its product. Second, it would be a public relations coup for the league to venture into something that could result in a highly profitable and taxable industry when it becomes mainstream. And last but not least, it somewhat diffuses the Donaghy bombshell.

“I think [Stern’s] probably getting firsthand information and getting better educated on [sports betting],” said Jeff Sherman, sportsbook manager at the Las Vegas Hilton. “He’s learned more about it and he has really softened on his stance. It’s a step in the right direction.”

Stern has been gambling for years business-wise, albeit on an entirely different level. He may not be placing bets on winners but he has certainly rolled the dice on a number of occasions that helped push the league past Major League Baseball as the second-most profitable professional sports entity in North America.

He helped institute a salary cap in the early part of the 1980s when it was considered a foreign idea. When the Players Association tried to bully him during negotiations in 1998, he locked them out and waited until they caved in.

When the NBA television contract with NBC expired in 2002, he was able to broker a unique deal with three media entities ABC/ESPN, TNT and AOL Time Warner that allowed the league to grow its resources during a time when TV ratings were sagging in the post-Michael Jordan era and media executives scoffed at the idea of using cable TV as the main vehicle for promotions.

ABC/ESPN, TNT and AOL Time Warner have since extended their partnership with the NBA through 2015-16, so it can’t be all that bad, and league execs have nearly $800 millions to smile about.

Stern is hyper sensitive when it comes to protecting the well-being of his business. He persevered through an ugly brawl in Detroit five years ago and lived to tell about it, so he knows how to put a positive spin on major issues.

Now, with a potential referee scandal staring him in the face, Stern has once again felt the need to defend his territory. Instead of backpedaling and becoming defensive, he went on the offensive and decided to face this potentially explosive issue head-on, which would explain his recent revelation.

In a recent interview with Sports Illustrated’s Ian Thomsen to discuss the future of the league, the NBA commissioner said this about the possibility of opening discussions regarding betting on NBA games: “Considering the fact that so many state governments probably between 40 and 50 don’t consider it immoral, I don’t think that anyone [else] sho

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Posted by BIGMELO15
4 years ago

DAVID STERN IS A person.
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Posted by mvp12331233
4 years ago

66 Billillion a year online betting bring some of that money to the US...Our prez. is already passing BS bills and spending money, this would actually help the people of this country and bring in revenew, because you know they will tax the garbage out of it.....just like hitting a big one at the race track!!!
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Posted by Shamus
4 years ago

Amsterdam.... ah, sweet memories. Yes, let's legalize gambling and prostitution. Regulate it; tax it; make it safe and accessible. Hell, the medical marijuana laws have essentially legalized pot. People who have no legitimate medical need for weed can get a license from a physician to buy pot or to grow their own plants. GOOD! Maybe they'll drink less. Can't wait for sports betting to be legal, although my gut tells me it will be a long time coming.
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Posted by QBall23
4 years ago

Like I was sayin', do you think the AB government will give the Flames or the NHL a share of those profits (which do provide good benefits to a community) when and if they agree to allow betting legally on their games? PS - I used to live in AB. Should of stayed there a little longer to get those checks...need it to bet on some games.
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Posted by powers13
4 years ago

the profit ....you nailed it........... first the refs ...not alll but they are tied into gambling....you think donahgy is the only ref ever aproached by the mob or shahdy characters...... 2....players are gambliong..easy money if you think about it...they pcik there spots too...3rd yes stern is going to to do what the maloofs of done ..... tied in spoprts with outside buisness ventuers...... 4th ....you cant stop gambling ..its like boooze and hookers. there it was here way before your time and will be around when your dead....5th.... get with the times stern ..get you head out of your behind.... the refs are croooked. ...not all....6th.....it brings in billion sof dollars and its is only getting bigger....stern you cnat stop gambling ...fool of fools.. you truly are. stern....ignorant phuck....... it brings in money for education...roads .health care ..creates employment....etc....the lsit goes on.....
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Posted by QBall23
4 years ago

I think you're correct. Legalized sports betting is coming. Why else would you get investors to buy a team like the Phoenix Coyotes. Betting will be a huge revenue stream for the 4 major sports leagues. Why would anyone watch or be interested in a game played outside their market area. No matter the sport, they're all boring....unless you have a bet on it, even if you have a small wager placed. A small bet provides the same thrill and emotions as a larger bet. It makes sence for the sport teams to get their end of it. However, the problem will be that governments (perhaps Vegas) might not want to give up some of their profits they are now receiving.
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Posted by the-profit
4 years ago

Stern Knows something. Maybe its that sports betting will be legalized and he wants to be properly positioned when (if) it happens. Or maybe its as simple as wanting to put a team in Vegas. But regardless its not smart to turn your back to any potential revenue streams.
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Top Response

Posted by BIGMELO15
4 years ago

"DAVID STERN IS A person."