David Stern is such a smart man. Always smooth and collected, with the snarkiest and wryest sense of humor around, he is unflappably cool about anything that comes to him.
Somber, cool, collected.
This is why his handling of the recent abomination involving referee Tim Donaghy is so brilliant. No one has seen this side of Stern before. Whether his emotion was genuine or manufactured is moot. He sold it exactly how he needed to. He admitted some guilt on the NBA's lack of preparation. He set the proper mood for the situation. By making a sharp contrast to his normal demeanor, even previously on seemingly important issues, he communicated exactly what he needed to. He created some much needed transparency to the league's processes, and hopefully that is a trend that will continue.
He's doing exactly what he should. Don't make any rash promises. Obviously he needed to promise to improve, but he refused to give specifics on how the situation will be improved. He ended his pre-question-and-answer final remarks with this perfectly placed, perfectly calculated line:
But if there's anything that is possible, virtually regardless of the cost, we plan to pursue that and to, in effect, reaffirm our covenant with our fans; that the NBA is a product that will remain proud of its officiating staff, which we believe is the best in the world, and that our games are decided on their merits.
He goes on to throw Donaghy under the bus (as he should) by referring to him as a "rogue employee" and an "isolated criminal." By singling him out, he distances Donaghy as one bad egg, and not someone who is indicative of a bigger problem.
I also understand that Mr. Donaghy is the only referee who is alleged to have bet on NBA games and disclosed confidential information to others with respect to NBA games that would enable them to place wagers with an advantage. I'll say it again, I understand that this is an isolated case involving an NBA referee who engaged not only in a violation of our rules, but in criminal conduct.
Kudos to David Stern. Even when owners feel he unfairly deals with their respective teams or is sometimes too meddlesome, I truly believe he looks out for the best interests of the league, both financially and competitively. And ultimately, he will right the ship and get the league back on track.