Part One from Hoopsworld.com NBA Commissioner David Stern gave an informal press conference on Sunday, May 14th. The following transcript includes questions from the collected media and the respective answers from the commissioner. Beyond the All-Star Game, what are the plans for Las Vegas? "We have no specific plans. What the All-Star game in Las Vegas does is give us the opportunity to say that gambling per se is not sinful, evil or disqualifying. In fact it's become the American way. Every legislature in the country is busy looking for ways to use gambling to close this budget deficit (state lotteries, video poker, Indian Reservations). There was some notion was that as a result of gambling that Las Vegas was a bad place. To the contrary it's a great city and it's growing very fast." Do you think there will be a team in Las Vegas soon? "I don't know. Right now I don't think so. Our view with Las Vegas was this one issue of sports betting, in particular basketball betting. The All-Star Game and events are going to be off the betting lines. We said that if they took it off, not a problem. We have a history, and maybe my successor will deal with it a little differently, but the history in the NBA when we expanded to Vancouver, British Columbia and Toronto, Ontario they removed sports from the lotteries. When ITT Sheraton owned the Knicks they took basketball off the boards at Caeser's Palace, which they owned. When Senator Bradley introduced a bill that prohibited sports betting any place where it didn't exist, we were supporters of that bill. We have a very consistent view on the subject which is one formulated some long number of years ago. Whether that evolves or not, I'm not prepared to say but right now it is our official and unofficial position that as long as there is basketball betting we won't have a team there permanently. And that's a subject that I have had, in the words of diplomacy, a frank discussion with my good friend Mayor Goodman on over the years. It's a very popular destination and I think it's likely that we'll have the largest media and owner turnout of any recent All-Star Game, and that's not a bad thing. According to the sign outside [of Staples Center] this is now Clipper Nation . . . I didn't see that. Good for them. How do you feel about being in Clipper Nation? I think it's great. Thirty years is a long time to wait for a second round. I'm very pleased for the fans of the Clippers. Did you ever think this would happen? Of course. As I said in Phoenix, I used to come out of my room every year and tell the broadcasting department, "This is the year of the Clippers. You should schedule them on network." And they would say to me, "Go back into your office and leave it to us, David." Which I dutifully did. Clearly this team has been constructed with the right coaching resources, the right executive resources, the right scouting resources and the right economic resource to re-sign key players. That is what the system is supposed to do. The cycle is supposed to be a little faster than has happened with the Clippers, but it is gratifying. Without taking anything away from what the Lakers have meant and mean to the league as a storied franchise, it's great for the Clipper fans and for the Clippers to see them having a success. What was your reaction when you saw that ABC had passed over this series? There are always choices that are going to be made. That's just the way it falls. They are always in the business of computing likely ratings and they make their judgment. We try to accommodate them the best we can, unless we have a difference of opinion. How much do you take a part in some of the issues like in Seattle and Portland with their financial difficulties, how as commissioner are you involved? More than I confess to, talk about or admit to. We are very concerned about all our franchises. But there are times when it pays to be out there as a public face and there are times when it pays to try doing what you can (no matter what you say publicly) to see what things can happen. Clearly we would like Portland to remain in Portland and Seattle to remain in Seattle. Unfortunately our track record has not been spectacular in the last few years. It was great for about 20 years, but hasn't been good in the last few years. We're in touch with teams. We're in touch, indirectly or directly, with counsel and other interested parties. We talk to prospective purchasers regularly only because we're continually telling people what the opportunities are in being associated with the NBA. In other words, anyone who is going to be interested in a team, regardless of which team, we discuss what the agenda looks like on an ongoing basis. I'm very enthusiastic. You can say that's my job, but I'm about as enthusiastic as I've been based upon this season: the overseas initiatives that we're undertaking in Europe and Asia through USA Basketball . . . Mexico and China (it's extraordinary the globality here), the WNBA in it's tenth season and what the NBA Development League means to the game, which is a pet project of mine. It's about basketball and improving the game. We think the opportunity to look at players after they've played for an additional year beyond their 18th birthday or their high school or graduating class is going to be a big deal for our game. I talk to virtually every interested party about the NBA and where it's going, and I'm very upbeat about it. Is this what you had in mind with the NBDL, as far as the Lakers starting a franchise? Actually it wasn't. I'm not against it but I didn't say that it was necessary. We're going to have a dozen teams next year. We're fielding lots of inquires both from NBA teams and non-NBA teams. My view is that independent ownership is fine. Having teams own it for strategic reasons is good also because that means we validated the concept. As far as I'm concerned, and this is sort of a personal issue too, over the last 22 years (just to pick a number) we've gone from no sports degrees or courses to more colleges than you can count that now have this thing called sports management. To date myself, it's like an I Love Lucy thingwhere the candy comes falling off the conveyer belt with no place to go unless you want to eat it . . . the idea that there are 12 (going to some number of teams) where you really can get experience as a trainer, coach, referee, player, television personality, a marketing person, a game presentation person or a public relations person, you can really say to people we have a training ground across the board is very exciting. It will ultimately it will come down to the benefit of our teams who will find some city where they are simpatico where they will sell tickets there, engender more support for their team if they are in a regionally aligned place. From a basketball perspective, if you look at the past year, I'm not saying I told you so but if you quoted our GM's, "We don't know this. We're not going to do this. We're not going to do that," twenty or so players went down including the sixth draft choice (Martell Webster), Gerald Green and a whole host of other players. In some cases the coaches had a sense that maybe two times wasn't enough. In other cases there are individual players for players in their third year (and I'm not that I'm trying to renegotiate with the player's association) who have said I'd they'd rather be down there getting the minutes, getting the training and getting the coaching rather than sitting here at the end of the bench. So I like it from that perspective. What this season as been, it's been about the game. It will improve our game to have these players play, learn and gain confidence in themselves. Your plans for Carlos Arroyo and Darko Milicic in Orlando? Well, initially we weren't too fond of the idea, but after talking to all of the parties involved, including the Disney representatives, it seemed the thing to do. Mickey, Donald and Goofy are really excited to have these guys playing in Florida. With the way playoff seedings worked out in the West this year . . . I think that the talk in the first week in June will turn into action. I have been admonished by my communications department that some of my remarks have described the process incorrectly. Let me say what I think the process will likely be. It will likely be the three division winners and the team with the next best record, which is currently what we do. The competition committee will be asked whether they want to consider ranking them in order of their record for the first for so that the anomaly of the San Antonio\Dallas situation would be reversed. It's our own version of the Hippocratic Oath, "Above all do as little harm as possible." I think we're going to do a little bit there. What about reseeding after each round? I'm really not a fan of that. Given the fact that we depend so much on television (and I don't apologize for that) that sometimes we move right in and to reseed after every round you need to stop and wait for everything to be over to reseed. That's one good reason and we're not going to do that. It's hard enough to schedule for ABC, ESPN, TNT and NBATV . . . as against the NHL who we work very closely with . . . as against Madonna (who we also work very closely with), it's a real issue at this time of year. Reseeding would absolutely throw it out in a real impossible way. Can you see again how a San Antonio or Dallas could play each other again in a second round? Are you hoping to make sure that doesn't repeat? We'll leave that to the competition committee. It's not the first time it's happened in our various structures. I would think that we will eliminate that issue if the competition committee acts the way we anticipate they will.