NBA's Stern discusses replay, security
HOUSTON -- NBA commissioner David Stern said he would like to see coaches have the option to challenge officials' late-game calls with a replay system similar to the NFL's.
Officiating, what constitutes a foul worthy of a suspension, and the off-court insults in the Nuggets-Mavericks series dominated his news conference at the Toyota Center before Game 6 of the Lakers-Rockets series.
"There are two things that I'm more interested in," Stern said. "I'm a little disappointed that the competition committee hasn't been a little bolder in instant replay. The other thing I want to study is security in the broadest context, and how we on the one hand maintain the intimacy that is our game, which I think sets us apart in a good way and brings our fans closer, with making sure that our fans can come and continue to enjoy our game the way they have."
When asked to expand on how he'd like to see replay used, Stern said, "I'm a big fan of tennis, and I envy a sport where the action stops after every point, so you can make sure it's correct. We can't do that. But I think that as we have continued to take baby steps in this direction, we may be getting closer to a time when at endgame, some kind of a challenge system should be considered. I expect to be voted down 30-0.
"What we're struggling with ... we want to have a set of rules, we want to call it the way they're written, we want to have a game called the same no matter who's reffing it, and we want to assure that we get it right. Against that, we struggle with the problem of to get it perfectly right, put 16 cameras and take four hours to play the game, we can't do that and we won't do that. So what you're seeing is us move slowly to more replay. And I think this is a good time to look at it again. And it may happen and it may not happen."
Afterward he said he would like coaches to risk losing a timeout if the call is not overturned, which is the format in place in the NFL. He did not specify what types of calls he would like to see subject to review. Currently officials can use replay to determine whether a shot is a 2-pointer or a 3-pointer, and whether a shot was released in time before the clock expired at the end of a period. Officials can also use replay after calling a flagrant 2 foul to determine whether the play actually warrants an ejection. Any rule change would have to be approved by the league's competition committee this summer.
Fan security and treatment have been an issue in the playoffs after Boston's Glen Davis accidentally shoved an Orlando fan who was standing next to the court as Davis celebrated his winning shot in Game 4 of the Celtics' series against Orlando. And behavior by fans, players and even the owner was an ugly sidebar to the Denver Nuggets' games in Dallas, which included an insult from Dallas owner Mark Cuban toward Denver forward Kenyon Martin's mother after Game 3, epithets from Martin at Cuban after Game 4, and complaints from Nuggets' wives and family members about the treatment they received from Mavericks fans in Dallas.
But Stern did not decide to issue any discipline to those under his jurisdiction.
"Honestly, I thought it was time to try to make cooler heads prevail," Stern said. "This is a league that I think takes justifiable pride in its inclusiveness and diversity. This is not something I felt particularly proud of and it's going to cause me to examine a lot of things that I'm not going to go into in the course of the summer that I'm not going to go into, but it's a wake-up call."
Stern also said that, despite criticism for what has been seen as inconsistent application of the league's flagrant foul penalties and suspensions, he would not change the specifications or cede to the wishes of players and players-turned-broadcasters who would like to see a more physical style of ball in the playoffs.
"It's not going to be a lessening of the rules so we can go back to 'The good old days, when a man's man could ring somebody's bell, or clock somebody,' OK?" Stern said. "I want to see the world's most gifted athletes playing a game.
"That's why, you throw a punch but you don't hit somebody, you get suspended. That's why you come off the bench ... you get suspended.
"There are plenty of people that I have to deal with that'll tell you, 'In the old days, when a man was a man, we would settle it ourselves.' Well, we can't do that."
J.A. Adande is a columnist for ESPN.com.