- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 25, 2006

NBA Commissioner David Stern held a conference call with reporters this afternoon to chat about the upcoming season. Nothing too newsworthy on the call, but a few interesting tidbits.

1. Usually on these conference calls, there’s a lot of the usual suspects calling in: New York Times, Daily News, etc., and several of the larger dailies from various cities. This call featured reporters from papers in Mexico and China, plus a few smaller papers from the U.S., including an alt-weekly from New Orleans. Not sure what this means, except that the NBA is doing things that are getting people’s attention at a global level and a local one. That’s probably a good thing for the league, as long as people aren’t all asking about issues like drugs, or, um ….

2. … guns. A Cleveland Plain Dealer reporter asked Stern about the issue of firearms in the NBA, in the wake of the recent incident involving Pacers guard Stephen Jackson, who fired his gun after being hit by a car outside a nightclub.

Stern immediately told the reporter that she should put in a call to the players’ union, a suggestion that perhaps the union is blocking efforts to strengthen league rules governing where and when players can carry firearms. At the moment, players are forbidden from carrying a gun while on league business, but the rule extends no further.

Stern lamented that players carry guns because they feel it makes them safer, when in fact, he said “the guns actually make them less safe. This is a real issue. I would favor being able to use a firearm to protect your home. Period.”

Will we see Commissioner Stern and

Wayne LaPierre face off in a game of one on one?

3. I asked the commish about the affordability of NBA games. The average ticket for a game costs around $46, according to Team Marketing Report. (It’s probably higher now, since TMR’s figures are about a year old.)

That’s more expensive than hockey and baseball by a good margin, and not much cheaper than football.

He responded by saying the league continues to mandate that teams sell 500 tickets per game for $10 or less. That’s a rule put in place in 1999.

I tried to press him on the affordability issue, but he quickly changed the subject and I was cut off by the conference call operator.

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