DJS: Now I've heard that argument many times and back in the day that's probably an approach I would have rolled with. But now, I can't do things like that anymore. The league is high profile now and teams ain't worth $12M's, they're starting at $350 million. So I can't punish those dudes like that anymore and hold them accountable even though I know I should put some of the responsibility on them. But ever since I put that luxury-tax in place and made them take a hit for going over their salary caps, dude, you have no idea how much drama that caused me with them.
Q: Dress code.
DJS: Yo, that wasn't me – that was them, the players. They brought that on themselves. I'm not taking the heat for that one. Did you see the way Mateen Cleaves was coming to games?!? C'mon, man, what would you do if you was me? I was begging every team he was on to take him off of the injured reserve list just so no one had to see him on the bench in what he called his street clothes. And I'm not even going to start with Damon Jones.
Q: A lot of people felt you directed that personally at Allen Iverson.
DJS: Wrong again. Lemme tell you something. In my mind Allen Iverson is one of the best-dressed superstars we have in America. His gear is always connected, always fresh, like the tags haven't been popped. And I wish I had his style. Now I appreciate a good suit, don't get me wrong, but I also have a great appreciation for those who take clothes and style seriously. And for me, there were too many players trying to be Allen Iverson but couldn't pull it off. That's why I dropped the dress code provisions in the agreement.
Q: Yeah, that was a slick move.
DJS: I know it was slick and shady for me to hide it inside of a collective bargaining agreement that was attached to other things that would determine whether or not we'd have a season, but you have to remember, I'm still a lawyer by trade. I still got moves.
Q: And what about the switch to the new ball?
DJS: I'd rather not discuss that. I'll say this: Once they threw that potential labor-force lawsuit out there, I knew I was done. Had to take an "L" on that one.
DJS: What about 'em?
Q: People said they knew you were changing, that something was wrong with you when The Brawl broke out. They said that wasn't the "real" you who came down with the gauntlet on that. Because back in the day, you used to love a good fight.
DJS: Yeah, that used to be part of the whole marketing plan when the players couldn't really shoot, and scoring was in the 80s. Man, I used to love those Piston/Knicks/Bulls/Heat battles. Anytime Oakley was on the floor in the playoffs a fight was guaranteed to jump off. Those were the days! Ratings out the roof!
Q: I know, but what happened?
DJS: The black people started complaining. Said we -- I -- was making black ballplayers look like animals. That I was becoming responsible for perpetuating a stereotype of the angry black man. So I just threw my hands up, like, I can't win. So when The Brawl at the Palace happened I was in my "a'ight I'm gonna give y'all what you asked for" mode. Now I can't sit here and say that that was my finest hour, but like the O'Jays said, "Give the people what they want." And I did. RIP: Gerald Levert. I had to throw that in.
Q: The quick whistles on techs from the refs this season.