What a crazy 24 hours.

Now, I’d love to go ahead and vent my spleen about this issue for as long as it takes to calm myself down, but seeing as how this story keeps changing every few hours, I’m going to go ahead and keep it brief, lest what I’m writing becomes irrelevant before it’s even posted.

What started as a coup for the Hornets and a huge gamble for the Lakers has turned into a complete debacle, doing major damage to three teams and threatening to wipe out of all the good feelings regarding the last-minute salvaging of the NBA season, and all the blame can be placed squarely on the shoulders of David Stern.

It doesn’t matter what you think of Stern prior to this (I’ve always been a pretty big fan, for what it’s worth) or whether or not you thought this trade was fair for New Orleans. What matters here is that the commissioner jumped in because he felt like he could, stopping the trade because it went against everything the owners had originally intended to rally for during the labor negotiations. Back then, the plan was to put several rules in place that were specifically designed to make it easier for small-market teams to retain their superstars, thus circumventing the type of superstar summit we saw take place in Miami last summer.

Problem was, for all the lip service being paid to restoring competitive balance, the bottom line was always going to be money, and getting a better split of the revenue was going to carry the day as far as owners were concerned. After totally punking the players on the revenue issue, they felt the need to throw the players a bone or two so they could save face, and thus they did not end up with the type of restrictions they had wanted in the first place.

Now, David Stern and the owners are basically trying to ignore what happened in the labor agreement and more or less make up the new rules as they go. I mean, I can’t for the life of me figure out how this ruling will stand. Nobody in their right mind can claim that this trade is unfair to the Hornets, and if anything, the Lakers are the team with the most to lose in this deal. If this ruling is really about enforcing some un-official “Heat” rule by trying to keep teams from hoarding superstars, well, then david Stern has over-stepped his boundaries to a degree that simply should not be allowed to stand.

So yeah, we’ll need a few days to see how this shakes out to be sure, but if this trade or some new variation of it isn’t allowed to stand, Stern will have Bucknered his legacy to an epic degree.

We’ll see.

-John Hathwell


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