Former NBA commissioner David Stern is clearly still extremely mad about Real Sports host Bryant Gumbel calling Stern “some kind of modern plantation overseer” in 2011. He appeared on reporter Nunyo Demasio’s podcast this week—a good get for Demasio!—and let fly against Gumbel during the very lengthy episode.
Awful Announcing points out a segment during which Stern says “I have done more for people of color than he has,” referring to Gumbel.
Nunyo Demasio: “How did it make you feel when Bryant Gumbel dubbed you ‘a modern plantation overseer?’”
David Stern: “My reaction was that Bryant Gumbel is an idiot and that I considered it a badge of honor. He was repeating something that the players’ representatives had said in the middle of a lockout. He was just regurgitating something. He’s the same guy that did a feature on our players and tried to sensationalize their nightlife. And, you know, even though he happens to be black, he was talking about our guys and the women they hang out with, et cetera. I have no respect for him, so that didn’t upset me at all.”
ND: “Wow, that comes as kind of a surprise, because I felt he kind of went in.”
DS: “No, he wasn’t the first. When you’re involved in a couple of harsh couple of collective bargaining agreements and negotiations and lockouts, you’re going to get the race card played against you. But that never bothered me.”
Stern’s legacy includes leading owners in several campaigns aimed at breaking the NBA player’s union, the primary instrument through which the league’s majority-black workforce exercises power; salary-cap and free-agency mechanisms that divert hundreds of millions of dollars from that workforce to owners; a rule forcing elite basketball players, who are largely black, to put in at least a year of unpaid labor for the corrupt NCAA or go abroad before being allowed to work in the NBA; and a series of measures, including the implementation of a dress code directed at black players, meant to reassure white, suburban audiences that NBA players were under the control of powers larger than themselves. (Gumbel referenced the dress-code edict in his on-air comments that led to Stern responding to them, six years after the fact.)
Stern, who became immensely wealthy off the labor of black athletes due in large part to the above policies, talked about a wide variety of things on Demasio’s podcast, offering takes on Hillary Clinton’s campaign strategy, his belief that Seattle should have an NBA team again, and the blocked trade that would have sent Chris Paul to the Lakers.
The real question here is who gives a shit about what Stern has to say anymore. His legacy, including but not limited to mandatory NCAA time and the salary-cap bullshit, lives on. That’s all the reminder of him anyone really needs.