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David Stern lays out grid-like course

7/19/2013

LAS VEGAS -- Either the NBA believes itself to be in great shape, or it is doing a fine job feigning satisfaction. At the 2013 Board of Governors meeting, David Stern and commissioner-heir Adam Silver weren’t waxing dire like they were during the 2011 NBA lockout. Stern announced “positive results” in regard to league finance and he predicted an oncoming “banner year.” NBA brass devoted a large chunk of time to announcing a largely cosmetic change -- the Charlotte Bobcats will return to being the Charlotte Hornets after next season -- before moving on to more pressing concerns.

David Stern and Adam Silver revealed a quite NFL-like trajectory for their league. Replay review is set for a large expansion, the kind of extensive retroactive reffing we see in Roger Goodell’s league.

“We had a competition committee report recommending certain instant replay circumstances and we adopted them all,” Stern explained. Now, block/charge calls, the timing of off-ball fouls and unsportsmanlike acts will all be subject to TV monitor scrutiny.

When asked what will be done to speed up the oft-lengthy replay review process, Stern responded, “We’ll be working during the summer to answer that question with specific ideas,” indicating that a central control or fourth referee might be involved in those plans. Currently, you should expect games to last longer.

David Stern also indicated that the new collective bargaining agreement was increasing player movement and revenue sharing, all as a means of enhancing parity. Again, another NFL feature.

“There’s a little bit more free-agent movement than we had under the old agreement," Stern said. "And that was something that we projected and expected because there’s more player sharing as teams under the cap acquire players and as teams who are up against the tax level or even above it find themselves making harder decisions about what players are necessary to retain or not, all of which strikes us as being pro competitive in terms of the league.

"Because the combination of improved player rosters for teams that have been struggling together with revenue sharing gives us the opportunity to be closer yet to the day to where teams can compete on the court and have the opportunity to be profitable.”

For better or worse, pro basketball also seems to be following football in standing pat on another issue: There’s no immediate enhancement coming on PED testing.

“We expect to have agreement on HGH whenever the [players'] union gathers,” Stern said. When asked if that would happen next season, he responded “we hope so,” and added, “It’s on a long list of items.”

Perhaps the NBA is wise to borrow innovation from the country’s most popular sport, and perhaps what works for football might not apply to an NBA setting. Time will tell on these matters. NBA games will certainly last long enough for us to get an idea if reforms are helping the product.