Originally written January 25, 2013 on Project Spurs:
Chris Kaman isn't a player who usually says controversial things, especially when they're thought to be true for years. In an interview with DallasNews.com, Kaman said the commissioner of the NBA, David Stern, "hates" the San Antonio Spurs. When he was asked about fans following players over teams, he responded: “One exception to that is the Spurs. They understand what they have. That’s why David Stern hates the Spurs. I probably shouldn’t say that but he doesn’t like when the Spurs are in the finals because the ratings go down. People say that all the time. I don’t know how true it is but you hear stories all about that is that the ratings are down. Their basketball is the purest basketball you’re going to find, in my opinion, in the NBA, just watching them play. They play a nice pace game. They’re defense is solid. Their plays are solid. They get all their guys involved. That’s why when he sat them guys against the Heat and sent them home, they still almost won that game.” David Stern is a businessman, who wants the highest possible ratings and marketing for his product. When he one time jokingly said he wanted the Los Angeles Lakers against themselves in the Finals, he wasn't entirely kidding. The most popular teams bring in ratings and they're marketed highly in the NBA over others. Whether they are mostly watched because they're in a larger market or because their players are attract attention (good attention or bad attention, in the marketing world any publicity is good publicity), those are the teams he wants in the big stage of his product. For years, San Antonio Spurs fans have privately and publicly discussed their frustration with the NBA with how their team is marketed. The league and mainstream media rarely pay attention to the team unless there's some kind of negativity for the team, with most recently this season being coach Gregg Popovich sending his stars home instead of playing against the defending champion Miami Heat and a controversial photo of Tim Duncan and Tony Parker with a fake Joey Crawford at a Halloween party. The Spurs have been looked upon as "boring" because their mentality is to win games and not to be flashy. The "flashy" teams don't always produce a winning product, but that doesn't mean the respectable way of winning will be the most popular either. When the Spurs have gone to the NBA Finals, they haven't been the most watched series in history. According to TVByTheNumbers.com, one of the lowest Finals of all time between 1974-2008 was between the San Antonio Spurs and Cleveland Cavaliers in 2007 which drew a 6.2 overall rating. That series featured arguably the league's most popular player in Lebron James and it seems it didn't get too much attention as many fans will tell you it was "obvious" the Spurs were the better team that year and finished the Cavs in a 4-0 sweep. Kaman's remarks ring true. Those rumblings have been around for a long time and especially rang true when the Spurs played the Heat. From a basketball standpoint, it was a great decision to not play his stars after a rough schedule. if you look at it from the marketing or business standpoint, it was an embarrassing night for David Stern in more than one way. His "marquee" matchup on national television wasn't going to happen and his most popular team in the league almost got embarrassed by the Spurs' second and third tier players. The "flashy" Heat couldn't put away the fundamentally sound Spurs, who have a team first mentality with one goal which is to be the last team standing in June. Stern fining the Spurs only added to the speculation that he doesn't like the team and its success. The worst part for the commissioner is that night's ratings were pretty good and that was because the majority of the NBA's fan base were actually cheering for the lowly Spurs to beat the Heat. When you think about all the examples of headaches the Spurs have brought Stern from a business perspective, you could understand why Stern most likely doesn't like the Spurs especially when San Antonio won't change their winning ways to satisfy anyone else.
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