It’s been a while since we’ve heard anything from former NBA commissioner David Stern. Between the fact that he’s avoided the spotlight since handing the reigns over to Adam Silver in 2014 and the fact that Silver’s tenure at the helm of the Association has been viewed as a success, Stern has managed to keep a low profile for the last few years.
But Stern is back, and the dude has some super hot sports takes. The ex-commish appeared on a panel at Columbia Business School on Friday, where he was tasked with discussing business ethics and leadership. In addition to his thoughts on things like corporate ethics – he used Facebook and its way of approaching its fake news issue as an example – Stern went off on several topics in sports.
Stern suspended NBA player Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf for a similar protest in 1996, but said Kaepernick’s case was different because he had the permission of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, and because president Obama said he had a constitutional right to speak out.
“Wrong!” Stern exclaimed. “He has the rights his union collectively bargained for him, but I guess Obama didn’t take a class in labor law.”
In addition to Kaepernick, Stern went after Tom Brady for Deflategate and made it a point to defend Hope Solo from her suspension by U.S. Soccer. On Brady, Stern aligned with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, saying “Who doesn’t think those footballs weren’t under inflated?”
On Solo, Stern made it clear that he agreed with her on her comments that led to her suspension. Solo said that Sweden played like “cowards” in the team’s win over the U.S. Women’s National Team in the Olympics, and Stern agreed with that assessment, saying “I thought Hope Solo was right. They were a bunch of cowards.” He said this while sitting next to Sunil Gulati, the president of U.S. Soccer and the man who announced Solo’s punishment for her comments.
Stern always had a bit of a reputation for speaking his mind, but he took this to a new level here. Nothing that he said was unique – plenty of people have criticized Brady and Kaepernick, and plenty of people have offered support to Solo – but none of them were the former commissioner of a sports league who was known for sometimes ruling with an iron fist.