Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Stern Defends League Troubles Hounding NBA Boss

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Stern Defends League Troubles Hounding NBA Boss

Article excerpt

NEW YORK -- David Stern defiantly defended his low-rated finals and lockout-tainted season, even while announcing that a panel will recommend changes to improve the quality of NBA games.

"It was nice to have a season," the commissioner said Monday at his annual NBA Finals news conference. "We think the fans appreciated both the settlement of the collective bargaining negotiations and the fact that teams like San Antonio -- the league's smallest market -- have an opportunity to continue to compete."

Stern faced a stream of questions about the league's troubles -- the huge drop in television ratings for the finals, the trend toward stagnant offenses and low-scoring games, players entering the league at a younger age and the fallout from the lockout.

The news conference was held several hours before the start of Game 3 of the finals between the New York Knicks and San Antonio Spurs.

"Obviously, there is an absence of the world's most famous person, no less the world's most famous athlete, Michael Jordan," Stern said. "But I think we're seeing the creation in front of our eyes of the kinds of teams ... that are going to get known. So the state of the league is one that finds us very optimistic about the future."

The 16-member committee, composed of coaches, former players, team executives and owners, will meet today to discuss rules changes for next season.

The 1999 season was marked by a significant drop in scoring, with only one team, the Sacramento Kings, averaging 100 points a game. This continued a decade-long trend toward a lower-scoring games.

One questioner, a journalist from Spain, pointed to San Antonio's unappealing 80-67 victory in Game 2 and wondered whether his countrymen should have bothered to wake up at 3 a.m. to watch the game.

"On the basis of one game and relatively low shooting percentages, I wouldn't think that game as you know it has come to an end," Stern said.

"It's true, (Game 2) was not the prettiest game that we've ever had in the NBA finals, and it does continue a trend of very aggressive defense. …

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