When I first read the headline Bryant Gumbel rips David Stern I paid it little attention, but after I heard the backlash associated with his comments I felt compelled to listen. In the closing monologue of Real Sports Gumbel said "David Stern has always seemed eager to be viewed as some modern day plantation owner that keeps his hired hands in their places."
Perhaps I'm just being naive or perhaps my perspective lends itself to a more liberal interpretation of things, but I agree with Bryant's opinion and here's why. Over the years David Stern has gone out of his way to establish his presence of authority and control over NBA players. Dress codes have been changed, fines for improper conduct have increased, and suspensions are longer. Although NBA players make millions of dollars (hence the term modern plantation owner) 90% of the league is black and all of the owners (less Michael Jordan) are white. Is the analogy really that far off?
Without question David Stern has one of the hardest jobs in America. Merging the inner city with the corporate world and Wall Street is a difficult endeavor. The socio-economic barriers and racial undertones are not easy to overcome and bridging the two distinctly different demographics has it issues.
The 800 pound elephant in the room is race relations. This country is extremely sensitive (and divided) on this subject. I don't think David Stern is by any means a racist, he's simply a necessary evil. There has to be structure and order to maintain a viable product and someone has to be responsible for that task. People don't always agree with the methods and the parties in disagreement often times don't share the same skin color. In the end it's not about white or black, only green. On the other hand would we be having this conversation if David Stern was white?