State of the NBA
Stern sees a healthy league that just needs some tweaking
Posted: Monday June 21, 1999 12:45 PM
Half full, half empty | Storylines | The Bandwagon
By John Donovan, CNN/SI
| English Lesson
| Alex English , an eight-time
All-Star with the Denver
Nuggets, takes a look ahead to Game 3 of the NBA Finals. |
NEW YORK -- The New York
Knicks can win Game 3 if they concentrate on doing a few things right.
1.) They need to continue to rebound well. And then they need to
push the ball up the court. That's a part of their game that has been
missing -- the Knicks got only four points off the fastbreak in Game 2 --
and it starts with rebounding.
2.) They need to get somebody else to step up and score. Larry Johnson has to do
something. Or Marcus
Camby. Somebody needs to help out Latrell Sprewell and Allan Houston.
3.) They need to get more support from their bench. In the last
series, against the Indiana Pacers, Chris Childs played very
well for them. He's played horribly (3-for-16) so far in the Finals. He and
Camby and Kurt Thomas
need to chip in once they get he chance.
The San Antonio Spurs,
up 2-0, will have their biggest test to date in Game 3. Here's what they
have to do.
1.) They can't be intimidated by the Knicks fans or by being here
in New York. They have to stay focused. They've done a great job of that so
far on the road in the playoffs, winning all six games away from San
2.) They have to continue to do what they've been doing on
offense, which is banging it inside to Duncan, forcing the double team, and
then Duncan finding the open man. He needs to do it a little quicker, but
it begins with getting the ball to Duncan.
3.) They have to continue to get up in the faces of the Knicks'
shooters, force them to drive into the big Twin Towers of Duncan and David Robinson. The
Knicks haven't been able to get past those big guys yet.
Alex English is the NBA analyst for CNN/SI, the 24-hour sports news
network from CNN and Sports Illustrated. Check back on Tuesday for his
recap of Game 3.
This is a special NBA Finals edition of "The Week at a Glance." Check
back every day until the Finals are decided for a new glance.
NEW YORK -- NBA commissioner David Stern, wrapping up what has been the
most troubling year in the history of the league, spoke with the media
Monday in an annual state of the game address.
"We sure are glad to be here," he told some of the 1,300-plus media
members who have been credentialed for the Finals. "It was nice to have a
The league lost the first games to a work stoppage in its history earlier
this season when an owner-imposed lockout forced the league into shortening
its season to 50 games. The league also has been hammered with complaints
about low scoring games and still suffers from the retirement of star Michael Jordan, the
image of some of its players and an increasing belief that the game is on
Stern, of course, sees the game as robust.
"All things considered," he said, "we think it was an exceptional season
for the NBA.
"The state of the league is one that finds us very optimistic about the
Other highlights from the address:
Stern squelched any thoughts about the NBA helping to finance arena
construction, much as the NFL does with its franchises. The San Antonio
Spurs, up 2-0 in the best-of-seven Finals, claim to be in dire need of a
new arena to replace the too-large Alamodome, a stadium built for football.
The city could lose the franchise -- the possible NBA champions -- without
a new arena.
"That becomes an issue for a community," Stern said, pointing to the fact
that mid-sized arenas that host basketball games are much more useful to a
community than football stadiums. There have been several new arenas built
in the past few years, he said, five will be christened next year with up
to four the year after that. All have been funded without help from the
"We don't see any reason to change that for San Antonio," Stern said.
On the drop in TV ratings from last season: "No, it's not alarming to
me," Stern said. "The reality is, in last year's Finals ... people tuned in
to see the 'Last Dance' [of superstar Jordan]. We expected an enormous
The NBA will convene a panel of players, coaches, front-office types
and others here Tuesday to address possible changes in the game to increase
scoring. A reporter from Spain, like many fans, lamented on the physical
play and low scoring that characterized the season. It is a problem brought
into stark reality in Game 2 of this series, which the Spurs won, 80-67,
over the New York Knicks.
"It's true, it was not the prettiest of games," said Stern, who was in San
Antonio for the game. "It is an issue that obviously is a concern to us."
The NBA continues to look at the possibility of instituting a minimum
age for players to enter the league. It is an attempt to keep players in
There is some concern that an influx of young players into the league has
added to the low shooting percentages.
"I'm not sure that I can chart a ... correlation between age and play,"
Stern said. "As I look at shooting percentages at times, it seems to be
unaffected by youth."
Stern favors putting a minimum rookie age -- somewhere around 20 -- and is
in the process of discussing it with the players union and others.
| Half full, half empty
| Game 3 |
The good : May
be the most interesting in the best-of-seven bunch. Knicks need it badly,
and this may be their biggest push.
The bad: If the Knicks
don't get it, few will remember it.
| The TV ratings
good : Well, fewer people are seeing the poor shooting that has
characterized the series so far.
The bad : Fewer are seeing
the Spurs, a pretty good team, the Knicks, a darn scrappy one, and the
emergence of Tim
Duncan, the man who may well unseat Shaquille O'Neal as best
big man in the basketball business.
| Storylines We'll Be
| The lineups |
Sprewell at point
guard? Camby in the starting five? Jeff Van Gundy will try everything he
can, but he only has so much to work with here, folks. The real problem has
been the fourth quarter, where the Knicks are shooting a measly 31 percent.
And if Sprewell's tired out by then, the crunch-time shooting could head
The Garden factor |
Spurs have seemed to thrive off other crowds -- they
haven't lost on the road in the playoffs -- but they haven't played here,
and they haven't played in such a big game. Will the crowd, the refs, the
Knicks find some way to get to the so-far unflappable
| The refs
Gundy wants his calls on his home court, and he's liable to get them. Spurs
have put up an average of 17.5 more free throws a game in first two, and
Van Gundy hopes to narrow that gap a little by massaging the
| The Bandwagon
| Larry Johnson
potty mouth makes everyone look bad|
| Sean Elliott
reason Sprewell's shooting so poorly|
| David Stern ||No longer
has to fear handing MVP trophy to Sprewell|
| Payne Stewart ||Hey, what
are you doing here?|
| Purple and greenish? ||MSG may
be Mecca, but those colors, honey ... definitely '60s.|