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Stern's Nightmare

SPECIAL TO ESPN.COM

What an absolute nightmare for NBA commissioner David Stern.

He has done a masterful job marketing and promoting professional basketball internationally. Stern has created a great feel for the game abroad. Now he faces the toughest challenge of all.

Whenever the integrity and trust of the game is questioned by fans and even the media, you have a tough, tough job on your hands. Think about the situation with referee Tim Donaghy. If he was intentionally affecting games with the whistle, trying to fix games after his involvement with gamblers and the mob, it is a total nightmare.

That appears to be the case, though you are innocent until proven guilty in this country.

My friends, think about all of the players who bust their gut, playing their hearts out. They show pride in the uniform they wear. Think about coaches fighting for survival. The results influence the future of those playing and working the sideline.

Think about the person who goes to bed at night after watching a dramatic contest. They thought they saw something of beauty, and now they wonder if a guy making a questionable call had an impact. Was an official calling a certain number of fouls to make sure things went one way so he could paid off a debt?

For the sports fans out there, this has been a rough period. Barry Bonds has chased the home run record, but it was tarnished by rumors of steroid use. Michael Vick has been in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. It has been a disaster; think of all of those animal lovers reading that indictment. Unbelievable cruelty and you ask why that happened?

The simple answer is each case is about making a decision. People have not made good decisions in their personal lives. When I go out on public speaking sessions, I talk about how bad decisions affect your life. Vick and Donaghy made bad decisions that have caused humiliation to their friends and families. Shame follows these scenarios.

How could any good come out of these situations?

Stern is a fighter, and let's not indict everyone because of one bad apple. Whether it is broadcasting, law, medicine, whatever walk of life, there are those who try to take the easy road. They want the grand slam by doing the wrong thing. There are many beautiful guys doing things the right way, many officials who call a game the proper way. Let's not punish all for the actions of one.

The commissioner will make sure those playing the game and those officiating the right way get their proper due.

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