So I'm watching the guys on PTI interview Stern right now, and I can't believe that he said with a straight face that he can't see why there is a "spirit versus letter of the rule" debate over the Stoudemire and Diaw suspensions. Really? You don't understand why people might be upset that you stuck to your precious rule so rigidly that you've ruined the last remaining interesting series in this year's NBA playoffs? You're having trouble comprehending that fans may be a tad testy that this decision has basically said that it's okay to be a thug on the court... just don't dare come off the bench in retaliation!
Stern is not a dumb guy, so I think he does actually understand the backlash. But while once upon a time he was the commissioner with all the answers, he has become increasingly clueless and out of step as time goes on.
Yes, I know the league needed to do something after the Artest incident to keep things from getting out of control. So they made up a few more rules, imposed stricter penalties and apparently enforce them with no room for interpretation.
The thing is, I really believe that Stern thought that once law and order was imposed, all of the NBA's problems would be solved. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. When you have Bill Simmons, as big an NBA fan as you'll find anywhere, calling this season boring, you've got yourself a problem. The league should be soaring with LeBron, Wade and other young players yet to hit their primes; instead, most casual fans I talk to can't be bothered to watch until the playoffs.
And now, thanks to rigid enforcement of his precious rule, Stern even has himself an image problem in the postseason. It's your league, commissioner, so you can do whatever you want. If you insist on playing dumb, though, please don't insult our intelligence by acting like you know what the fans want better than they do, because it's become increasingly clear that you don't.