CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy vowed to stop talking about the officials. The declaration left NBA commissioner David Stern with a smile.
The give-and-take between the two continued before Game 3 of the Magic's first-round playoff series at Charlotte on Saturday. Stern was in attendance two days after the league fined Van Gundy $35,000 for criticizing the referees about the number of fouls called on Magic center Dwight Howard.
"I've been fined for saying how good they were this year, and I've been fined for criticizing them," Van Gundy said. "So nobody understands more that we're just not to talk about them at all."
Told Van Gundy's comments about an hour later, Stern immediately smiled.
"I'm glad to hear that," he said. "Isn't that new?"
Stern also met with Charlotte owner Michael Jordan before the Bobcats' first home playoff game. Stern indicated he was confident Jordan could turn around the money-losing franchise, saying several league employees are working closely with the team to meet certain benchmarks.
"My prognosis is this will be a healthy franchise," Stern said.
Earlier this week, Stern was upset with other coaches and players, including Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson, for taking shots at the officials during the playoffs. Stern threatened possible suspensions, instead of just large fines.
"He gave the Clint Eastwood line, right? 'Go ahead, make my day,'" Van Gundy said.
Stern wasn't finished, though. He later took Van Gundy to task for his complaining about how the first-round playoff series are spread out for television purposes. Stern recalled how coaches used to complain about back-to-back games on weekends.
"So then you can imagine my feeling when I see Stan Van Gundy, the league administrator, lecturing on how we should schedule games," Stern said. "Thank you very much — as we try to nurture $800 million a year of TV money so we can distribute it to the teams so they can pay their salary."
"So when you tell me he's going to be quiet for a while, that's the best news I've had today."
The commissioner also wouldn't shut the door on Seattle's return to the NBA — if a new arena can be built. The city lost its team when the SuperSonics relocated to Oklahoma City and were renamed the Thunder.
"We've stayed in touch with them and when there's an NBA style building in Seattle, or plans for one, it would be my guess that would be a place we'd be very interested in talking about," Stern said. "I don't blame the fans for thinking of however they think of us. I think we didn't get the job done collectively in Seattle, fans, ownership, government — government — and league."