David Stern wants to take a closer look at flopping and referees to be able to take a second look at all flagrant fouls.
And the NBA commissioner isn’t sure he wants to see his veteran players in the Olympics anymore.
Stern and deputy commissioner Adam Silver said Wednesday the league is committed to sending top players to the Olympics only through London, and then wants to look into saving them just for the world basketball championship and having the Olympics reserved for those 23 and under, as soccer does.
That discussion will happen later with FIBA, basketball’s world governing body. First, Stern has some changes he wants to talk over with the recently changed competition committee.
He has previously urged a crackdown on flopping, the art of players falling down to make officials believe they were fouled. He called for a “not instant, but thorough review.”
“I think we are going to approach something that many tell me is impossible, which is deciding whether someone was acting or was actually, and thereby tending, intending to trick the fans, and the referees; or, whether there was a legitimate reason for that particular person to go sprawling,” Stern said. “And then the question is, what to do in that case, and that’s the kind of discussion that I look forward to having with the committee.”
Referees can currently only review the more severe flagrant-2 fouls, to decide if they were indeed worthy of an automatic ejection or should be downgraded to a level 1. The issue came up during the Miami-Indiana series, when a flagrant against the Heat’s Udonis Haslemappeared to fit the criteria of a 2 — and was upgraded to that the next day by the league office — but was only ruled a 1 on the floor and officials had no ability to look at it again.
“I think that we ought to have video review of flagrant ones and twos, and that’s something that the committee should look at,” Stern said.
Stern said he also wants an end to defensive basket interference.
“I happen to be a fan of the elimination of basket interference,” Stern said of the rule that prohibits offensive players from touching the ball while it is in the area above the rim. “I think it’s one of those plays that if you look at it, and if you watch the number of times that players either do or don’t touch the ball, it really puts the referees in a very uncomfortable position, because even on replay, I’m not sure you can get it right. …
“I look at that together with video replay where we have to continue on our march, which has been pretty embracing to expand the areas in which we use instant replay. Those are two areas.”
The biggest change could be the look of the Olympic teams in 2016. NBA players began competing in 1992 in Barcelona, with the famed U.S. team of Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and the rest of a squad that was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame two years ago.
“It’s the 20th anniversary of Barcelona, where the only Dream Team that I ever celebrated played,” Stern said.
“We think international soccer has an excellent model and in the case of soccer, of course, there’s the World Cup of football, which is the biggest sporting event in the world every four years, and then in the off years, for the World Cup, they play, in essence, with some exceptions, a 23-and-under competition at the Olympics,” Silver said.
“And there’s a recognition certainly Mark Cuban, other owners have raised repeatedly the issue of our players playing in essence year round when you add the Olympics to our newly renamed world championship of basketball to our World Cup of Basketball. So when you have the Olympics, the World Cup of Basketball, we are taking a very close look at whether it makes sense from an NBA standpoint and a global basketball standpoint for the top players to be playing at that level on a year round basis, and somewhere (every) summer.
“So what we have told FIBA and what David has announced several times is that we are all in through the London Olympics, and then post-London Olympics, we want to step back together with USA Basketball, led by Jerry Colangelo and Patrick Baumann in FIBA, and the same way David talked about the new commission being a deliberate body, and I think together with the Competition Committee a committee of owners, we need to take a long-term view of what makes sense both for the NBA and for the game.”
Cuban, the Mavericks owner, has called allowing players to compete in international competitions “the biggest mistake the NBA makes.” Wednesday, Cuban said in an email to ESPNDallas.com’s Jeff Caplan that he’s glad the NBA is moving away from the Olympics.
“I have not talked to (Stern). Yes, I’m thrilled,” Cuban said. “More thrilled if the NBA starts its own world championship. This way the revenues from the tourney could be shared with players. When the revenues go to FIBA they get next to nothing. The teams get absolutely nothing.”
Colangelo has said he doesn’t want to discuss the proposal until after the Olympics, believing it is a distraction to bring it up now. It’s unknown how FIBA would feel, knowing how much basketball has grown in the 20 years NBA players started playing in the Olympics.
According to the collective bargaining agreement, the player keeps his rights, which allow teams to exceed the salary cap to re-sign them, if he changed teams by trade. The players’ association argues that a player and his contract going from one team to another should also maintain his rights through a waiver claim.
“We believe that the position that we are espousing here is the one that the contract says is the one and that the arbitrator will confirm,” Stern said.
No new rules are certain. Even if the new 10-member competition committee recommends changes, owners must approve them, which is an uncertain process.
Stern’s backing alone may not be enough. Stern has said in recent weeks that he has wanted changes to goaltending and flopping for years, but has been unable to make it happen.
“We don’t have any expectations for the new committee,” Stern said.
“We think that by energizing the committee, it will come to meet, which it’s planning to do, next month, and go over a pretty broad agenda and see what has to be considered in the long term, and what should be considered in the short term; meaning for implementation next year,” Stern added.
He later added: “I think the competition committee is going to have its hands full, in a very positive way.”
The new committee is designed to be more nimble, with just 10 members: Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, Warriors owner Joe Lacob, Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo, Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak, Jazz GM Kevin O’Connor, Thundert GM Sam Presti, Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle, Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins, Celtics coach Doc Rivers and a player to be named by the National Basketball Players Association.
Information from TrueHoop’s Henry Abbott and The Associated Press was used in this report.
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