Fri Apr 23 11:15am EDT
Coaches criticizing referees in the media is as much a part of playoff basketball as switching to black shoes or enormous floor logos. Outside of going to the Cowboy Hall of Fame, it might be Phil Jackson's favorite thing to do. Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy is just as big of a fan. It's a time-honored tradition.
But if David Stern has his way — and he always does — that could be coming to an end.
[Our] coaches should be quiet because this is a good business that makes them good livings and supports a lot of families," Stern said. "And if they don't like it, they should go get a job someplace else. I don't mean to be too subtle."[...]
"And if someone wants to try me in the rest of this playoffs, you know, make my day. Because the game is too important and I don't think that the people who trash it are respecting it, and we'll do what we have to do-the players and coaches alike-because they give the impression to our fans that the referees somehow have an agenda."
Dag, yo. "Make my day?" That's some serious gauntlet-throwing by the Commish. Love it.
Wise man that he is, Stern admitted that he was partially at fault for allowing coaches to air their grievances in the media. Stern said if he could do it again he would be "suspending Phil and (former Lakers and Miami Heat coach) Pat Riley for all the games they play in the media."
Furthermore, Stern says he was too easy on those guys, and that he should have made them feel it a little more. Sern said, "If I had it to do again ... I would stop it and the price wouldn't be a modest $35,000 fine. It would be whatever a day's pay is and then two days' pay and then a week's pay."
Who knows if Stern's statements will have any effect whatsoever on coach and player behavior towards officials. It might be too little, too late. But then again, David Stern is a bad mammajamma, so I wouldn't be surprised if this little bit of media warfare is completely successful. We'll know it worked if Phil Jackson spends an entire press conference praising the referees.