Dear David Stern...

I know it's been a tough last week or so for you, David. Really. I'm sure it's just teeth-gnashingly tough for you to have to acknowledge you had a compromised referee in your league. Yeah, the same league that everyone has tacitly accused of being rigged for years. The same league that players have once-in-a-while implied is rigged. (That is, until you threatened their families or whatever it is you do to shut them up.)

I think your league is in serious trouble now. I mean, like, in danger of losing all credibility. People already have lost interest in the NBA. And despite all the credit you get for having built this league and improved it during your 20+ years at the helm, I think a lot of it is kind of a bit much.

You took over the league in 1984. Magic was in his prime, the Lakers were tearing up the league and the Bird-Magic rivalry was something people on both coasts could get into. Plus the teams came from equally-hatable cities so it was fun to root against them, too. 1984 was also when Michael Jordan entered the league. So I think we can agree that you aren't exactly the pioneer you like to believe you are -- the league got a lot more exciting on its own.

You did oversee the ridiculous overexpansion and nomadic wanderings of several franchises. Well done! You also were in charge for the NBA's tremendous idea of backing a women's league, the WNBA. That sure was a hit and not at all a money-losing proposition for all those involved. Yet your arrogance will not let you admit that the WNBA is a laughable failure and that people aren't interested in watching two-handed, push-shots when they could go to the YMCA and see higher-quality basketball.

You've also helped to fix a couple series based on your arrogant, "Stern" following of the rules. In '97, you upended the Knicks run by suspending most of their team for several games after a brawl the Miami Heat initiated in the closing minutes of a game that they lost to go down 3-1 in the series. The worse team, the Heat, ended up taking advantage and winning. You did it again this past Spring when the Phoenix Suns were in what looked like it could be a terrific series against the San Antonio Spurs. A couple of the Suns best players headed towards their franchise point guard who was laying in a bloodied, crumpled heap and you suspended them. And then the Suns lost. Sure, they might have anyway, and so might the Knicks in '97, but we'll never know for sure. And those leaving the bench rules only are in effect because your team became more and more thuggish and you knew of no way to curb that behavior. So, yes, when emotions run high in the playoffs, let's punish good teams then.

Your league also had Dennis Rodman kicking cameramen in the gonads, Ron Artest galloping into the stands to pummel spectators and countless nightclub "incidents," usually involving guns, Stephen Jackson, or both. Solid.

When Michael Jordan "retired" in 1993 at 30 years old, we all speculated that it had something to do with his reputedly voracious gambling. Like, maybe you secretly suspended him for 18 months? Possible? Come on, David, now's the time to come clean and tell us. It might actually make you look tougher on gambling. Or maybe it'll just illustrate how long this has been a problem and remind us that you haven't made an ounce of progress in getting it under control.

Remember when you were an arrogant prick on Dan Patrick's radio show when he asked you about those Suns suspensions in the Spring? Yeah, who looks like the putz now? Your paid-off referee was reffing in the playoffs!

Your stubborn nature extends to everything. Your league's waning supporters sometimes like the bash the NHL, but the NHL actually does the playoffs correctly. You can poke fun at them if you want, but their playoff system re-seeds after every round so there's no chance the best matchup of the playoffs is coming in the second round. Yet you continue to refuse to improve the system.

I don't know what to tell you, David, except to say that whatever you're expecting when the season starts, I think it'll probably be worse. Every single bad call will get people wondering about how on-the-level the refs are. And it won't just be the fans... it'll be players, coaches and front offices, and you'll be hearing about it forever. This won't go away. Your league is dirty and you're no where near as brilliant of a commish as you think you are.

In closing, I will include a picture of you, snapped not that long ago, when you thought the NBA and gambling could mix on the right level. Well-done, David, well-done.

Boiled Sports

Powers Through It!