The NBA and it’s partnership with ESPN is one of the more well known partnerships in sports but the network has always been criticized for caring too much about it’s partnerships and less about doing what it’s supposed to do. One of the most infamous examples of this was the cancellation of the underrated drama Playmakers which was a gritty series about the underbelly of professional football.
Needless to say, the NFL got hot and bothered and the series was cancelled. Fast forward a few years and David Stern’s relationship with ESPN begins to get testy when he objects to certain stories — negative in nature — getting more attention than he’s like on ESPN. This started a weird relationship with the NBA that has continued to this day as analyst Jeff Van Gundy offers up a story about how the NBA called his bosses to complain about his criticism of NBA officials.
They’ve tried to hurt me with my bosses. They’ve called my bosses and said, ‘Nobody wants to hear that guy whine about officiating.’ They’re pretty sensitive about that sort of stuff. I’m not quite sure why. I think by critiquing them you’re talking of their importance to the game.
Since this isn’t Soviet Russia in the 1950s, Van Gundy is free to say just about anything he wants without getting censored, which is what the NBA seems to be lobbying for. This isn’t the first time the NBA has tried to throw its weight around to get painted in a better light but it seems each time they try they end up looking stupider than they did before.
[h/t: Bleacher Report]