Stern: NBA will mediate Kings tug of war

MINNEAPOLIS — NBA commissioner David Stern, in Minneapolis this week to discuss proposed but stalled renovations to the Target Center, spoke on a variety of subjects before Wednesday night’s Timberwolves-Spurs game, including the situation in Seattle, HGH testing in the NBA, dress code and the possibility of uniform patches appearing on jerseys around the league.

Sacramento-Seattle tug of war: Stern confirmed for the first time that the group led by Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer that put forth an offer to buy the Kings has officially filed for relocation to Seattle. Wednesday’s comments were his first mention of such; the group had until March 1 to file.

Stern said he doesn’t imagine there will be a bidding war between the respective groups in Seattle and Sacramento who hope to purchase the Kings from the Maloof family and that the matter will be settled by the league. After the Hansen-Ballmer group put together an offer to purchase the team in January, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson said he would gather potential local owners to put together a package to purchase the team, build a new stadium, and keep it there.
As of Tuesday, no Sacramento group had been assembled, but Stern said he’s expecting both groups, that one and Seattle, to put forth packages. He said the appropriate committees will consider both offers and the prospect of relocation, looking at factors like support for the team in the prior city and the likelihood of proposed buildings – Seattle also has pledged to build a new arena – being built.

HGH testing: Following the example of the other professional sports, the NBA is beginning the process of instituting HGH testing, Stern said. HGH is already on the league’s list of banned substances. Stern was very complimentary of players’ desires to have a comprehensive anti-drug policy in place.

“If (other leagues) get through with what I think they’re going to get through and have full-fledged testing, based upon our overall dialogue with the union, we’ll be in a good place to have that as well for next season,” Stern said. “It’s not a commitment, not a promise. It’s an expectation. It might slide a bit, but I think we’re well on our way.”

(Speaking of that dialogue with the union, Stern said that he hasn’t had any issues dealing with it, even in light of the recent issues with union chief Billy Hunter.)

No hoodies on the bench: On Monday, an injured Joakim Noah sat on the Bulls bench during a game against the Pacers. Per NBA dress code, he was wearing a blazer, but it was over a sweater with a hood. This was apparently deemed a violation of dress code and Noah was ordered to change.

Stern said that he hadn’t even heard of the violation until Wednesday, and his only comment was this:

“I think there might be a sense that our players know pretty well that you shouldn’t wear a hood on the bench.”

Uniform patches: The idea of the NBA instituting sponsored uniform patches first arose this summer, and Stern said that he’s never been much of a proponent of the idea. For that matter, the league doesn’t even display manufacturer logos on uniforms. However, Stern admitted that the day is approaching when teams will be adopting them. 

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