Bryant Gumbel evokes slavery: David Stern like 'plantation overseer'
Bryant Gumbel had some harsh words for David Stern, sure to spark controversy, in Tuesday night's episode of HBO's "Real Sports," evoking imagery of slavery in describing the NBA commissioner's treatment of players.
During his commentary at the close of the show, the Emmy-winning host said Stern appeared to want the image of "some kind of modern plantation overseer" and said the commissioner treats the players like they were "his boys" and "hired hands":
"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 and 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, who has made headlines with racially charged comments in the past, acknowledged during the rant that his comments would get some negative attention -- he also acknowledged that he didn't care.
"Some will of course cringe at that characterization but Stern's disdain for the players is as palpable and pathetic as his motives are transparent," Gumbel said.
Back in 2006, Gumbel referred to then NFL Players Assn. executive director Gene Upshaw as then league commissioner Paul Tagliabue's "personal pet," according to SportsBusinessNews.
That same year, Gumbel made this comment about the Winter Olympics, according to NewsBusters.org: "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."
The NBA owners locked out their players when the old collective bargaining agreement expired June 30. The exhibition season and first two weeks of the regular season have already been cancelled. Stern spent 16 hours Tuesday with owners, players and a federal mediator in the latest attempt to salvage the season.
-- Chuck Schilken
Video: nbavideosnow2 / YouTube