David Stern reflects on league at final All-Star appearance

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David Stern reflects on league at final All-Star appearance

HOUSTON In what was his final all-star game press conference Saturday night, NBA commissioner David Stern balanced it with both reflection on the past along with his vision for the league's future which will be led by deputy commissioner Adam Silver.

Stern has already announced that he plans to step down as commissioner on Feb. 1, 2014, with Silver replacing him.

Of the 37 all-star games Stern has attended as commissioner, he said his fondest memory was the 1992 all-star game in which Los Angeles Lakers Hall of Famer Magic Johnson was named MVP.

Johnson retired in 1991 after he tested positive for the HIV-virus, only to return the following season and win his second all-star game MVP trophy (the previous time was in 1990).

"Giving sweaty Magic Johnson a big hug right after he hit the last three and still being able to hug him because he's alive every time I see him, that is at the top of the list," Stern said. "And it will not easily be dislodged."

Stern added, "although I do enjoy every all-star, that one will resonate for the rest of my life."

Stern addressed a number of issues on Saturday, but none seemed to garner more interest than the expected move of the Sacramento Kings to Seattle.

"That's moving along," Stern said. "We fully expect to have that process completed for a report to the Board of Governors at its April 18 meeting."

However, Sacramento Mayor and former NBA player Kevin Johnson isn't ready to concede the Kings are gone just yet.

"We have been advised by Mayor Johnson of Sacramento, parenthetically - who we have not met with and who we have no plans to meet with here - that Sacramento will be delivering to us a competitive bid to the one we've received from Seattle. That will include the construction of a new building with a significant subsidy from the city of Sacramento and other things that would bring the region together to support the team.

Stern added that the Sacramento application is expected to be in the league's hands "well before" March 1.

Other topics of discussion by Stern on Saturday included:

2015 all-star game

There are currently two applications in for the 2015 NBA all-star game: One from the Brooklyn Nets, the other from the New York Knicks.

"I really think Commissioner Silver is going to have a great time with those applications," said Stern. "I really do, and I asked him to send me a postcard to tell me how they go."

When asked if it was likely that the 2015 all-star game would be one of those two venues, Silver replied, "yes."

The 2014 all-star game will be played in New Orleans.

D-League with 30 teams

"Ultimately we'd like to have a 30-team league, and we do envision a one-to-one relationship between every NBA team and a single D-League affiliate," Silver said. "We think it's the second-best basketball in the world after the NBA."

The NBA players union firing executive director Billy Hunter on Saturday

"I don't have any comment on the Players' Association situation other than we know as much as you do and nothing more," Stern said. "We've seen Derrick Fisher's statements, and we await notification from the union as to who we should be dealing with, because it has been a principle of faith for us that we will deal with whomever the union tells us to deal with. That's what we do, and it remains the same."

Blakely: Raptors newcomers show Celtics what they're missing

Blakely: Raptors newcomers show Celtics what they're missing

TORONTO – It’s far too soon to say if the Celtics’ decision to stand pat at the trade deadline was a mistake.
 
But the early returns aren’t encouraging.
 
Their 107-97 loss Friday night to the Toronto Raptors wasn’t because of Kyle Lowry (right wrist), who didn’t even play, or DeMar DeRozan, who played out his mind while scoring a career-high 43 points.
 
The game will be remembered by the new guys Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker, both acquired at the trade deadline by the Raptors.
 
Ibaka, who was a bad fit, and on most nights a bad player, in Orlando, looked like the O-K-C Ibaka while scoring 15 points to go with seven rebounds against the Celtics – numbers that were better than his two games combined against the Celtics this season with the Magic when he scored a total of just 12 points while grabbing eight rebounds.
 
And then there was Tucker, who got a crash video course on Raptors playbook just hours before the game, and proceeded to show the kind of toughness at both ends of the floor that has made him one of the league’s more underrated defenders as he finished with a near double-double of nine points and 10 rebounds.
 
It was their first game with their new team, but you would have thought they had been with Toronto all season long with how seamless they seemed to fit in.
 
Ibaka draining jumpers, Tucker causing chaos defensively, while absolutely crushing the Celtics on the boards...their play was a painful reminder of what could have been for the Green team.
 
Both were rumored to have been in the Celtics’ crosshairs prior to the Thursday 3 p.m. trade deadline. The Celtics were lukewarm at best on Ibaka (they didn’t want what would have been a 25-game rental) and just couldn’t quite strike a deal and cross the finish line for Tucker.
 
It’s too soon to hit the panic button and rip Danny Ainge for not getting a minor deal done like adding Tucker or Ibaka.
 
Still, his players have to embrace the truth behind what transpired this trade season.
 
Ainge went big-game hunting, focusing most of the team's efforts on landing a major difference-maker, a la Jimmy Butler or Paul George.
 
When that didn’t work out, he settled for the next best thing, which was to keep this group together.
 
The onus is now on them to prove that trust Ainge has in them, was well-placed.
 
Putting too much stock in the first game after the break is a risky proposition that no one should subscribe to.
 
But in the loss, it revealed many of the concerns and weaknesses of this roster that tend to get magnified in defeat while glossed over when they manage to win despite those flaws.
 
Isaiah Thomas may be the best scorer in the fourth quarter, but he’s human.
 
There will be games when Mr. Fourth Quarter can’t get it done.
 
Friday night was that kind of game for him. He scored just four of his team-high 20 points in the fourth.
 
And as the Raptors blitzed him repeatedly with two and three defenders, his teammates failed to step up when the opportunity was there to make impactful, game-altering plays down the stretch.
 
Watching the Celtics’ defense in the second half was painful.
 
DeRozan got whatever he wanted, when he wanted it.
 
And when he missed, the Raptors controlled the boards, got all the 50/50 balls and repeatedly out-worked Boston.
 
It exposed Boston in a way that’s painful to see, especially when those inflicting the greatest amount of damage could have been in the Celtics huddle and not the one on the other sideline.
 
 

Hardy: 'Celtics haven't reached that next level status'

Hardy: 'Celtics haven't reached that next level status'

Greg Hardy, Chris Mannix, and Glenn Ordway discuss what the Celtics should have done before the trade deadline, and what they need to do in the offseason in order to reach the next level in playoffs.