The ever-inflammatory Jim Rome had NBA commissioner David Stern on his radio show yesterday, and of course, had to ask about the NBA Draft Lottery. Unfortunately for him, he asked Stern whether or not the lottery – won by the New Orleans Hornets, a league-owned team for almost two years – had been fixed. Naturally, that didn’t go over well with the NBA’s top executive.
Instead of simply telling Rome that there was no conspiracy theory, Stern responded with the quintessential “loaded question”: “Have you stopped beating your wife yet?”
With a quick Google search, one will find that Rome has no domestic abuse history, so that response by the commissioner will immediately confuse listeners who aren’t aware of that fact. Many might just assume that he was personally attacking Rome; what he was really trying to get across to Rome was that he felt it was unfair to ask such a question, assuming guilt about the lottery being fixed.
I don’t believe in conspiracy theories, but there are plenty of others out there who do, so I don’t think it was an unfair question. Stern had to know that the topic would come up, especially with how contentious of a topic it has been in the last few weeks. Could Rome have phrased the question differently and not come at the commissioner so directly? Absolutely, but that’s never been his style. The commissioner could have handled the question more gracefully, though.
Stern did make one good point in the middle of the interview, however. He mentioned how if other teams (Charlotte and Brooklyn, specifically), then skeptics would have simply come up with reasons for why they won the lottery. His exact quote was:
“I think that if it had gone to Michael Jordan, which was the next team up with, in terms of a high percentage, they would’ve said, ‘Oh, David’s taking care of his friend Michael.’ And if it had gone to Brooklyn, which is going into Barclay Center, it would have been fair to speculate, I suppose, that we want to take Brooklyn off of the mat. So there was no winning.”
I do think Stern is fair in saying that people would just assume the “fix was on” regardless of who won, but again, he could have simply said that without creating a tense and awkward moment with Rome. Needless to say, social media has taken hold of the story and the interview audio has gone viral. What do you think of the exchange?