Stern rules . . . for now
Yesterday, Kevin Garnett and Kobe Bryant squared off against each other on national TV with The Los Angeles Bryants versus The Boston Garnett’s. I used their names instead of Lakers and Celtics respectively because that is how David Stern wants it. It’s a league and enterprise marketed and driven by the players first and teams second. Stern (Virgo) understood that the future success of the league was based on the star power of the league’s top players. He had taken over the league at it’s nadir, when the playoffs were televised during late night TV in time delay on CBS. I loved because it was a time of my life when I was staying out late, alot, and after a longish night of polluting my body, I could watch a game, having missed the news, like it was happening in real time. I don’t think I was the leagues ideal demographic though.
So Stern, a lawyer by trade shows up as the new commish and has the great fortune of being in the right place at the right time as Magic Johnson and Larry Bird enter the league together and a decade’s worth of rivalry between two, storied franchises ensues. They would play long enough and well enough to allow the next superstar of the game, the one that would take it to unprecedented international heights to enter the arena, one Michael Jordan. By the time Jordan was beginning to reach the peak of his powers, Stern had perfected marketing players over teams. He knew that there was not enough superstar talent to go around to each team, so if he could take the top 2-3 players and amp up their wattage, they could garner enough interest from cities outside of their own market and sell jerseys and tickets to visiting teams on a consistent basis. Moreover, if he could market his players strong enough and get them on TV with a semi-frequent basis, like yesterday’s Kobe/Garnett duel, he could help networks sell high priced advertising by bringing in manufacturers like Nike, Sprite and Gatorade. The higher the ratings, the greater the ad revenue. The greater the ad revenue, the more Stern, the league and the owners got in their TV deals. David Stern understood the power of the personality unlike any other commissioner in any other sport at the time and he turned the NBA, for better or worse into a star-making-machine.
His critics (and I have been a vocal one on various message boards) contend that he plays favorites, rewards certain franchises through favroritism via the draft (Golden State losing out on Patrick Ewing), coddled his stars like Michael Jordan (saved him from gambling disgrace) and even determined how certain games would be officiated so that his star players and their franchises would reap the benefits of games reffed in their favor, especially in the playoffs. Just ask Kings fans about the now infamous Laker/Kings playoff series when The Kings looked destined to oust the favored Shaq/Kobe led Lakers, only to have a certain playoff win wither away at the hands of one of the worst officiated games in history, which saw The Lakers overcome a huge point deficit, as fouls went their way repeatedly against The Kings, who eventually lost that game and the playoff series as the sexier and TV rating dominant Lakers moved onto the NBA finals.
All of the seamier sides of Stern and his desire to promote star players came to a head last year, when Kevin Donaghy was arrested for fixing a number of NBA games. Stern moved quickly and claimed that Donaghy was a rogue and acted alone.
This was another aspect of Pluto in Sagittarius uncovering the muck and the mire in pro sports. From Steroids in baseball and track, to dog fighting in pro football, the scandalous nature of sports was being unveiled before our very eyes. Now it was The NBA and Stern’s turn to face the music.
The commish did everything in his power to stonewall, divert and accuse during that time. He went on a personal quest to demonize Donaghy, speaking about him in terms reserved for those guys with five-day-stubble and unpronounceable names that do despicable things. Stern was not his usual confident and flippant self. He was alternately defensive and offensive in his stance. He was born on Sept. 22nd. In The Secret Language Of Birthdays it is “The Day Of The Restless Drive.” One of the key attributes associated with this date is the ability to go on the offensive to defend ones self and clearly, Stern was engaged in a full, frontal assault with his critics. Being that his Sun sign was at 29 degrees Virgo, it was squaring Pluto in Sag at the time of the Donaghy scandal. Fans were getting disgusted and many NBA conspiracy theorists (count me among them) who claimed that the game had been rigged for years were getting their rants taking ever more seriously. While he was being dragged through the mud of an officiating scandal, another one was just beginning to rear it’s ugly head.
Up in Seattle where they have been having an almost epically bad period for sports teams, they were watching their beloved Sonics bought from coffee king, Howard Schulman to one of David Stern’s pals, from Oklahoma City, Clay Bennett. Bennett never had any intention of keeping the team in Seattle and it was obvious from the outside that he would set the conditions of staying so high, that the city and the state could not allow themselves to vest nearly all of the power and leverage into Bennett’s hands. He knew this and so did his pal, David Stern, who appeared openly contemptible at times towards the city of Seattle and it’s fan base. The collusion, the favoritism, the nepotism and the arrogance of Stern was all on display. Even email memos between Bennett and his co-owners that were obtained showed that the league would allow them to bypass certain requirements in order to move. Even after the emails had surfaced, Stern knew that it was a fait accompli, because the owners of the league would ultimately vote in favor of the move, the same owners that Stern had helped make incredibly wealthy. They would not turn on their Da Cappo.
The only two owners to vote against the move were Mavericks owner and longtime Stern critic, Mark Cuban (Leo) and Trail Blazers owner, Paul Allen.
The universe however has a sense of internal justice that levels the playing field in it’s own unique fashion. The OK City Thunder made their professional and uniform/name debut in an exhibition game on 10/8/08 against The T-Wolves. This is the date I will use as the inaugural moment of the current franchise. Well, as luck would have it, Mercury was retrograde that day in Libra and as I have noted before, that when Chris Cohan bought the Golden State Warriors back in the early nineties, Mercury was retrograde and as a result, The Warriors are the most “unlucky” team in the league. So fear not Seattle fans, you will see justice meted out by greater gods than even David Stern, especially when it comes to contracts of The Oklahoma City Plunder, I mean Thunder.
But at the end of the day, Stern’s crispy buns were pulled out of the various fires by a Lakers (Kobe) and Celtics (Garnett) finals. The same two teams that had helped launch Stern’s prosperous run as the most influential commissioner of pro sports since Pete Rozelle.
Astrologically though, Stern’s hold on the game might ultimately be supplanted by the very same star system he put into place. Kobe (Virgo), Garnett (Taurus), Le Bron James (Cap) , Dywane Wade (Taurus), Tim Duncan (Cap) and Chris Paul (Taurus) are considered the league’s best and brightest talents and as you can see they are all born in Earth signs. Stern is lucky to have an elemental resonance with these players, however, watch out for LeBron James (12/30/84) whose Sun is at 8 degrees Capricorn. When Pluto begins to move into a conjunction with his natal Sun, he will be a force to be reckoned with and would be in a position to take on the power structures of the league if he wanted to. Stern needs to play nice with Bron Bron because someday soon, the servant might just rule the master.