Stern bites bullet, wants players to leave guns at home
NEW YORK -- David Stern understands having a gun to protect your home. He's not convinced carrying one on the streets makes you any safer.
For that reason, the NBA commissioner said Wednesday that he would prefer his players leave their firearms behind when they go out.
"It's a pretty, I think, widely accepted statistic that if you carry a gun, your chances of being shot by one increase dramatically," Stern said during his preseason conference call. "We think this is an alarming subject, that although you'll read players saying how they feel safer with guns, in fact those guns actually make them less safe. And it's a real issue."
It's one that was raised recently when Indiana's Stephen Jackson shot a gun in the air at least five times outside an Indianapolis strip club on Oct. 6. He originally told police he fired in self-defense during a fight in which he was hit by a car.
The NBA's collective bargaining agreement allows players to own licensed guns, but they can't carry them on any league or team business. Asked what kind of firearm rule he would want if collective bargaining weren't involved, Stern said: "I would favor being able to have a firearm to protect your home. Period."
He added that walking the streets carrying guns was "dangerous for our players," but said there has been no further discussion with the union about strengthening the policy.
Union spokesman Dan Wasserman said it already was bolstered in last year's agreement, at the request of the league.
"In response to issues raised by the NBA during bargaining last year," he said, "a provision was added to the collective bargaining agreement that subjects the players to discipline if they bring any kind of firearm, even if it's licensed, to an NBA arena, practice facility, or even a team or league offsite promotional appearance."
Wasserman also said that the dangers of firearms are discussed during the rookie transition program, where players are "informed of the legalities of it, what you can or can't do, and the pros of cons of having a weapon are discussed extensively."
With the start of the season less than a week away, Stern also addressed the arena situation in Sacramento. The city's residents will be asked to approve two ballot measures Nov. 7 that would increase local sales tax as part of the Kings' quest to replace Arco Arena with a new downtown building.
The measures are considered long-shots to pass, and Stern seems to understand why after claiming that a deal between the city and the developer hasn't been finalized.
"In the absence of a deal between the city and a developer, I don't know what any fair-minded citizen of Sacramento is being asked to vote on," he said. "I would love to see them support an arena development, but I would tell them that they better make sure that the city gets with it to see whether the deal can in fact be done. Right now there is no deal anyplace."
Also, Stern said he expected to rule on Larry Brown's grievance with the Knicks sometime during the second week of the season. The Knicks refused to pay the remainder of Brown's contract after firing him one year into a five-year deal.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press