Stern gets his points on board

By Marc J. Spears
Globe Staff / April 24, 2009
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CHICAGO - Commissioner David Stern isn't going to cry for the injury-plagued champions of the NBA and doesn't believe the Celtics want his sympathy, either.

The Celtics are playing without star forward Kevin Garnett (right knee sprain), who is likely done for the season, and forward Leon Powe (left knee injury), who is done for the season.

Despite injury woes during the regular season, the Celtics won 62 games to earn the second seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Although Garnett's absence will play a big role in the Celtics' quest to repeat, Stern views the injuries as part of the game.

"Welcome to the league," said Stern prior to Game 3 of the Celtics-Bulls first-round series last night. "Something always happens and there is always someone looking to knock you off. Some teams get unlucky. The Celtics are here. They don't want my sympathy and I'm not going to give it to them."

On other topics:

  • Stern said he hoped to visit Garnett prior to Game 3. "The KG situation is a tough one," he said. "Guys play and play and play and we know statistically something like this happens."
  • On the perception that the NBA would prefer a Finals matchup between its two biggest stars, Cleveland's LeBron James and the Lakers' Kobe Bryant: "I don't even know how to answer it. I think the great thing about our league is we're having these great series. We have a Finals that will define the event. If you've fought your way through what you have to go through to get to the NBA Finals, that's going to be a great thing. And it doesn't matter what market you come from or the like."Sure, media will focus more on particular players. But we've been at this far too long. At least I have. And the best you can hope for is a well-contested playoffs, a minimum of injuries, and games decided not by injuries, without outbreaks of fisticuffs or calls at the end of the game that people want to complain about, and the rest takes care of itself.
  • "But I understand the question. When our broadcaster says, 'The dream matchup is . . . but there are great teams,' I call them up and say, 'Do me a favor, can you reverse that? How about saying there are great teams and whoever gets in it will be great?' 'You're right, David. I am sensitive to the issue, but it is what it is.' "

  • Celtics president Danny Ainge did not make the trip to Chicago after suffering a heart attack April 16 and has not attended the playoff games.
  • "I've been speaking to Danny through the Celtics," Stern said. "There was a meeting last week in New York and that morning he was hospitalized and we were getting like up to the minute [updates]."

  • Stern was excited about Rookie of the Year winner Derrick Rose, and how the Chicago native's quick road to stardom has lessened talk about Hall of Famer Michael Jordan.
  • "He's so quietly a great player that it's just a delight to watch and to listen to him and to see him grow during the year and get the leadership role during the playoffs," Stern said. "And to focus on Derrick and not the next coming of who from you-know-where, and to let him grow . . . the beauty of it is we have lots of it."

  • Billy Hunter, executive director of the NBA Players Association, told ESPN Wednesday he didn't think much change was needed in the collective bargaining agreement. The labor pact, signed in July 2005, expires in June 2011.
  • When asked about Hunter's comments, Stern said: "We have a good relationship. We represent our constituents the best we can. We'll be starting those discussions some time when the games aren't being played."

    Marc J. Spears can be reached at

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