*Bryant Gumbel, host of HBO’s “Real Sports,” blasted NBA commissioner David Stern on his show Tuesday night for the lack of resolution in the labor negotiations between the players and owners that led to the league canceling the first two weeks of the season.
“The NBA’s infamously egocentric commissioner seems more hell-bent lately on demeaning the players than solving his game’s labor impasse,” Gumbel said in his commentary at the end of the show.
He went on to evoke images of slavery, saying: “Stern’s version of what has been going on behind closed doors has of course been disputed, but his efforts were typical of a commissioner who has always seemed eager to be viewed as some kind of modern plantation overseer, treating NBA men as if they were his boys.
“It’s part of Stern’s M.O., like his past self-serving edicts on dress code or the questioning of officials. His moves were intended to do little more than show how he’s the one keeping the hired hands in their place.”
Gumbel said he knew his comments would make headlines, but that he wasn’t concerned about it.
“Some will of course cringe at that characterization,” Gumbel said. “But Stern’s disdain for the players is as palpable and pathetic as his motives are transparent. Yes, the NBA’s business model is broken. But to fix it, maybe the league’s commissioner should concern himself most with the solution, and stop being part of the problem.” [Scroll down to watch.]
Meanwhile, Gumbel’s comments aren’t the first potentially controversial remarks he has made, notes The Hollywood Reporter. In 2006, he said he doesn’t like the Winter Olympics and refuses to watch them, adding: “So try not to laugh when someone says these are the world’s greatest athletes despite a paucity of blacks that makes the Winter Games look like a GOP convention.”
That same year, he said of outgoing NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue: “Before he cleans out his office, have Paul Tagliabue show you where he keeps [then-NFL Players Association executive director] Gene Upshaw’s leash,” Gumbel said. “By making the docile head of the players union his personal pet, your predecessor kept the peace without giving players the kind of guarantees other pros take for granted. Try to make sure no one competent ever replaces Upshaw on your watch.”