Although many people have suggested trying to take a little bit more of a national approach with this blog on occasion, I’ve resisted. I’m a big fan of the national sports scene but I’ve always wanted this site to have an exclusively Buffalo feel. With that in mind, something happened yesterday that I just can’t help but write about. No, I’m not talking about Matt Cain’s 14 K perfect game masterpiece or R.A. Dickey’s contentious 1-hitter, even though they were both spectacular. I’m referring to the captain of all bullshit, Jim Rome’s interview with NBA Commissioner David Stern.
I’m never quick to take the side of Stern and honestly he’s my second least favorite commissioner in all sports (congratulations Bud Selig) but there’s a point when assholes can be outshined by even bigger schmucks. Stern agreed to go on Rome’s ESPN radio show yesterday and of course the results of the NBA Draft Lottery was the biggest topic discussed. Understandably the results of said lottery were somewhat questionable with the NBA-owned New Orleans Hornets landing the number one overall pick which will garner them Kentucky big man and potential superstar Anthony Davis. There’s been an outcry of ‘CONSPIRACY’ and understandably many fans were upset by the results. With an ace in a hole like that Rome had plenty of gasoline to toss on the fire.
Yahoo sports writer Dan Devine was kind enough to put the entire transcript from the conversation on his Ball Don’t Lie basketball blog this morning. The largest point of contention from the interview occurred within the first few minutes of the conversation:
“You know, New Orleans won the draft lottery, which, of course, produced the usual round of speculation that maybe the lottery was fixed,” Rome said. “I know that you appreciate a good conspiracy theory as much as the next guy — was the fix in for the lottery?”
“Uh, you know, I have two answers for that,” Stern said. “I’ll give you the easy one — no — and a statement: Shame on you for asking.”
Rome goes right for the jugular with his first question and it’s nothing out of the ordinary for him. He’s quick to back off when conflict arises however:
“No, it’s ridiculous,” Stern answered. “But that’s OK.”
“I know that you think it’s ridiculous, but I don’t think the question is ridiculous, because I know people think that,” Rome said. “I’m not saying that I do, but I think it’s my job to ask you that.”
Rome is quick to put his tail back between his legs when Stern calls his question ridiculous and claims that it’s his duty somehow to try to humiliate a man who agrees to do his show because his pack of “clones” demands it. He’s even quicker to take the high road when Stern asks him the following question:
“Have you stopped beating your wife yet?” Stern asked.
“Yeah, I don’t know if that’s fair,” Rome responded. “I don’t know that that’s fair.”
By no means was Stern insinuating that Rome actually beat his wife but rather putting the question he initially asked into terms Rome could understand. Asking the commissioner if the draft was fixed was a simple yes or no answer which the commissioner could only answer one way: “No”. Even if it was true Stern would never admit that he fixed a lottery on a radio show. Stern flipped Rome’s argument on his head by asking him whether or not he had stopped beating his wife. This on the other hand is a loaded question with no correct response. By answering “yes” Rome would be admitting that although he wasn’t doing it anymore he had at one time assaulted his spouse. By answering “no” he of course would be insinuating that there was domestic abuse still occurring. At this point Rome probably realized he was bringing a knife to a gun fight by trying to out-argue a man with vastly superior intelligence.
From that point on Stern went on the offensive and exposed Rome for what he really was:
“Well, you know, it’s good copy, and you do things sometimes for cheap thrills,” Stern said.
“I did not do that for a cheap thrill,” Rome answered.
“Well, that’s what it sounds like,” Stern said.
Stern continued on the offensive:
“Well, no. But listen, you’ve been successful at making a career out of it, and I keep coming on, so …” Stern said.
“Making a career out of what, though, commissioner?” Rome interrupted. “See, I take great offense to that. Making a career of what? Cheap thrills?”
“What offense are you taking? You’re taking offense?” Stern asked.
“I am. Now I am,” Rome answered. “If you’re saying I’ve made a career out of cheap thrills …”
“… taking on the world, and now Jim Rome is pouting? I love it,” Stern said.
“I’m not pouting; I take offense,” Rome said. “There’s a difference between pouting and taking offense. I take offense like you took offense to the question…”
Stern sums up Rome’s entire career in a simple sentence by inferring that he’s made his career out of cheap thrills. Rome appeals to the lowest common denominator because he harps on what’s trending at that point in time and takes the opinion of the vast majority. He claims he’s controversial and “edgy” but in actuality he spits out a few turns of phrase and idiotic taglines to appeal to the people who actually have the ability to listen to his radio show at noon on a Wednesday. Some people would argue that Rome got the better of Stern because he got him riled up but in actuality Stern exposed Rome for the fraud that he is. Keep in mind this is a man who first gained notoriety for antagonizing former NFL QB Jim Everett to the point that Everett actually punched him in the face on live television in 1994. Since then Rome’s been nothing more than a tabloid sports journalist who wouldn’t know good journalism if Bob Costas walked up and punched him in the face with it.
Unfortunately my pleas for good journalism will again fall upon deaf ears. Rome will still be on the radio today at noon, preaching to his herd of clones about how he got the better of David Stern yesterday and there will certainly be drones of supporters who actually believe he did. Sift through the bull shit though people and try not to go down the path of a ring judge in last week’s Manny Pacquiao fight. Understand what you’ve heard and what was said to realize that Rome is good for nothing more than cheap thrills. If you’re looking for something to fill up your noon to 3 timeslot this afternoon do yourself a favor and read a book or go outside to enjoy the summer weather. For those of you who need your sports fix download Bill Simmons’ podcast or Football Today with Ross Tucker and enjoy quality journalism instead of embracing ignorance.