‘It is what it is’, Stern in no rush to change the bench suspension

Associated
Press

David
Stern knows there are people who still think the NBA’s bench suspension rule is
unfair and needs to be scrapped.
None,
apparently, runs one of its franchises
.

Stern said
Thursday night there has been “no proposal” to change the rule, which
gives a minimum one-game suspension to a player who leaves the bench during an
altercation.

The rule
and its application came under fire during the second round of the playoffs,
when the Phoenix Suns lost two players and perhaps along with them their chance
to be in the NBA finals instead of the Spurs before being ousted by San
Antonio.

“We
recently brought the subject up for discussion at our competition committee
meetings,” Stern said before Game 1 of the finals between the Spurs and
Cleveland Cavaliers.

“There
was no proposal to change it. Our teams are satisfied with the enforcement and
generally felt that any other enforcement would have been quite questionable
given the past enforcement.”

Phoenix
lost All-Star center Amare
Stoudemire and Boris Diaw for one game after they wandered away from the bench
following Robert Horry’s flagrant foul on Steve Nash in the final minute of the
Suns’ Game 4 victory.
Without
them, the Suns lost Game 5 at home and were eliminated in Game 6.

When the
suspensions were announced, Suns owner Robert Sarver said getting the rule
changed would be one of his top priorities for next season. And Stern and the
league have heard plenty, particularly from

Phoenix fans, that the rule isn’t fair.

“There’s
certainly, geographically located, there is a very intense segment in the state
of

Arizona,
and it concerns me that the enforcement of the rule gives them that
impression,” Stern said. “But it is what it is.”

The
committee also discussed the lottery format, which Stern said he wanted before
it was held. The results of the lottery, in which Portland, Seattle and Atlanta
vaulted over teams with worse records for the top three picks, angered teams
such as Memphis and Boston, which dropped to the fourth and fifth spots despite
having the worst records.

But Stern
said there were no good ideas, and the committee plans to discuss it again in
October.

“I
don’t think that there’s anyone that’s going to be happy with whatever the
system is, and I don’t mean that because anyone is unfairly complaining,”
Stern said. “It’s just that there are choices to be made how you go, and
any system is going to reject the choices that someone else would put forward.”

The commissioner
also said he hopes to complete extensions with network partners TNT, ABC and
ESPN on extensions before the end of the finals.

Otherwise,
Stern called himself a “pretty happy commissioner,” pleased with the
finals matchup and calling Tim Duncan a “certain Hall of Famer” and
LeBron James “the future of this league.”

“We’re
looking forward to the series,” he said. “We think it’s going to be
absolutely terrific.