David Stern entered the Massachusetts soap opera surrounding legislation and proposals for the Bay State’s first legalized casinos. The peculiar pairing of the commissioner with the gamblers begs the question: Did Stern con fans while attempting to restore the league’s image following the 2007 Tim Donaghy scandal?
At February’s Massachusetts Gaming Commission powwow, Stern voiced support for KG Urban, the development firm partnering with Foxwoods in lobbying to control gaming at the proposed casino site in New Bedford, Massachusetts. According to the Boston Globe, KG Urban, the outfit run by David Stern’s son, is the front runner among three prospective conglomerates seeking exclusive gaming operations at the southeastern Massachusetts grounds.
Stern’s alignment with the Bay State gaming redevelopment project follows a CNBC interview last month in which he echoed protégé Adam Silver’s rhetoric supporting the legalization of sports betting.
The longest serving commissioner in league history sang from a different sheet of music not too long ago. “I feel betrayed by what happened on behalf of the sport, regardless of how protective I’ve been,” he remarked of the Tim Donaghy scandal. “This is not something that is anything other than an act of betrayal of what we know in sports as a sacred trust.”
The former NBA commissioner’s U-turn on betting postdates perhaps the worst scandal in NBA history when a referee gambled on basketball games he officiated before a disgruntled mob bookie dimed out the veteran official to the feds. During games refereed by Donaghy, both Vegas and small-potatoes bookies witnessed seismic point-spread shifts. Stern subsequently spent seven seasons taking the league’s moral inventory and restoring the NBA’s sullied public image.
While Stern’s recent actions contradict his curtain call as commissioner, his current rhetoric fits when one reads between the lines. During the height of Donaghy’s reckless wagering, the commissioner’s son, Andrew Stern, pushed gaming projects for the Las Vegas-based Sands Corporation in rural Pennsylvania. And shortly after Stern handed reigns to his longtime liege Adam Silver, the new commissioner went all-in on gambling. He plans to carry the NBA into the palms of its future cash windfall—handheld smartphone sports betting.
In January, Stern supported “Fantasy Sports” betting, which an NBA team source told Breitbart Sports was the NBA’s push for cell phone wagering on shots within NBA games. Less than one month later, Stern champions slot machines and three-card poker, the enterprise his son’s KG Urban slates for the struggling enclave of New Bedford, Massachusetts.
While Stern masterfully repaired the league’s reputation in the aftermath of the 2007 gambling probe, the stance on gambling he then took does not appear, or at least no longer appears, as his true stance on gambling.