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Thursday, January 17, 2013
David Stern says don't eavesdrop

By Mark Woods
Special to ESPNNewYork.com

LONDON -- NBA commissioner David Stern says any team tempted to "eavesdrop" on opponents will face sanctions from the league.

But the actions of New York Knicks owner James Dolan in ordering extra microphones to be installed within Madison Square Garden in the wake of Carmelo Anthony's recent suspension did not break any rules, he confirmed.

Speaking in London ahead of Thursday's game against the Detroit Pistons, Stern revealed he would like to see more devices available so that fans can listen in to players and referees in a similar fashion to the National Football League.

But acts of espionage are off limits.

"If a team does something to eavesdrop on other players, they would be sanctioned because it would be against our rules," Stern said.

"But there is a difference between eavesdropping such as putting microphones in the locker room or the huddle other than the one that the league does, and putting microphones around the court to pick up the sounds they make."

The league, through its broadcast partners, does nothing but aim microphones at the court, he added.

"We mic players. We mic coaches. And we have mics associated with all the cameras and in some cases bigger mics," Stern said. "So anything that is said on the court is really subject to being picked up.

"So that is why I enjoy watching NFL games. Why do you think you hear the quarterback shouting the instructions? It's because there are mics designed to pick up everything and enhance the fans experience. I'd like to see the audio track on all the games be a little bit more robust. But if anything, we need more mics around our games rather than fewer."

In a joint news conference at The 02 Arena, deputy commissioner Adam Silver confirmed that the NBA plans to play more preseason games next fall in Europe, including one in Manchester, UK. However no decision has yet been taken on whether London, or another city, will host another regular season contest next year.

It will be left to Silver, who is scheduled to succeed Stern as commissioner in 2014, to push forward with often-stated proposals to create franchises across the Atlantic.

It was a concept which failed when attempted by the NFL, whose European minor league was shut down in 2007 after 15 seasons.

But Silver believes it offers little to the NBA as a potential model.

"I'm not sure what the lesson is from NFL Europe because it's a very different game. It's not an Olympic game. It's not played on a widespread experience across the world," Silver said.

"In terms of the NBA and basketball, it's very encouraging what we've seen on this trip. It was encouraging when we were here at the Olympics. And with what we're seeing in the development of state of the art arenas. This building, Berlin, Istanbul has a new arena and Paris is about to renovate their building. And one of the things David has talked about for years is the need for that arena infrastructure.

"What has to follow is television. We're seeing that now with a new deal (in the UK) with Sky Sports that we're very excited about. The potential is there. It's a complex issue, as to whether the NBA should be expanding or if we should relocate franchises. Ultimately how much fans support there is. It's a long horizon in 20 years. The international opportunity is a huge one for the NBA."