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Ball Don't Lie

Lockout videos: Larry O’Brien gives Bob Hope a check for $50,000

Eric Freeman
Ball Don't Lie

Despite the fact that his name is on the league's championship trophy, Larry O'Brien's tenure as NBA commissioner is not usually considered to be a resounding success. In the typical narrative, the era from 1975 to 1984 is seen as a relatively dark period in the league's existence. That's not entirely accurate -- O'Brien did quite a bit, including overseeing the ABA merger and locking down a lucrative TV deal -- but it is easy to consider O'Brien as a weak commissioner given the strides the league made during David Stern's time in charge. In relative terms, he was.

For whatever reason, O'Brien's 10 years as commissioner have been mostly forgotten. Thankfully, we have videos like this one to give us a picture into his style. Watch above as O'Brien gives special guest Bob Hope and the USO a check for $50,000 at All-Star Weekend in 1981. If this clip is any indication, O'Brien wanted to market the league towards old people who appreciated jokes told by a comedian holding a 7-iron. And who wouldn't, really?

On the other hand, O'Brien's grasp of interview structure is fairly lacking. For instance, when you are handing a check to a famous person, it is best not to cut things short by asking then-president of CBS Sports Van Gordon Sauter what he thinks of Bob Hope, because chances are he had some hand in putting him on the ASG broadcast in the first place. I know O'Brien doesn't technically control TV production, but that's the sort of thing David Stern would never stand for.

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