David Stern Says He Didn’t Veto Chris Paul To The Lakers, It Just ‘Never Got Made’

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Nearly five years to the day the fabled Chris Paul-to-the-Lakers trade never happened, David Stern is adamant that’s the proper way to phrase it: the trade never happened.

Stern fielded a question about the famous trade that never was during a Q&A with students from Marist and Columbia Universities in New York City. The question comes about 61 minutes into the audio recording when a student from Marist asked about Stern’s role in the deal when the NBA owned the New Orleans Pelicans.

The trade, you may remember, would have sent Paul to play with Kobe Bryant and the Lakers but was never made.

Q: You talked a little bit about NBA ownership of the New Orleans franchise. I was wondering, the biggest decision you had was the cancellation of the Chris Paul trade to the Los Angeles Lakers—

Stern: As we speak I’m in an argument with somebody who writes for ESPN… so I’m going to correct your language: What cancellation? You mean the GM was not authorized to make that trade and, acting on behalf of owners, I decided not to make it. I was an owner rep, so it wasn’t… there was nothing to void. It never got made.

When you’re the commissioner and you have two teams that are ticked off at you, as in the Lakers and Houston and the GMs, without wanting to be attributed spend their time trashing you, the wrong impression can be granted.

Paul, of course, was later traded to the Los Angeles Clippers. Stern said his own silence on the decision probably hurt his reputation among NBA fans who thought it was the league directly meddling in the fate of a player through their ownership of a team.

One of the few times I decided to just go radio silent and let it play out, and I got killed. So the answer is: there was never a trade. It was never approved by me as owner rep.

Stern then let the student—his question now properly obliterated—ask him another question.

There are a lot of other interesting tidbits in the Q&A. Stern said it’s probably time to officially legalize sports gambling with the rise of daily fantasy sports and talked about fake social media accounts in his name.

He also tackled the infamous 2006 synthetic basketball material change (“I didn’t even know we were doing it”) and talked about changes to the NBAPA and their labor negotiations. It’s a wide-ranging interview definitely worth a listen if you’ve got about 90 minutes to kill at work this week.

(via SB Nation)