ORLANDO - At the halfway point of an already whirlwind season, union leader Billy Hunter is pleased overall while still reserving judgment about the game in the aftermath of the prolonged lockout.
“Obviously the TV ratings are up. The attendance is up. Merchandising is up. So all the signs are positive, that’s what I’m getting from [commissioner] David [Stern],’’ Hunter said yesterday. “The early report is that things are positive.’’
After a summer and fall spent haggling mostly over revenue sharing, Hunter said the union is waiting to see the first official revenue figures from the league.
Hunter said he’s not at all surprised that the league has rebounded so swiftly after a contentious summer.
“I believed that the electricity was in the air and what was going to happen was the same thing that happened to football,’’ Hunter said. “[There was] just a groundswell of support when the NFLPA and NFL got their deal. Everybody was concerned of whether there would be a problem or downturn, and it didn’t happen.’’
Stern announced yesterday that he’ll be retired within five years, and that he hopes deputy commissioner Adam Silver replaces him.
Stern endorsed Silver for the job, calling the 20-year employee of the NBA a “first-rate, top-of-the-class executive.’’
“I guess I would say that one of the things that a good CEO does, and I try to be a good CEO, is provide his board with a spectacular choice for its successor, and I think I’ve done that, and that’s Adam,’’ Stern said, with Silver sitting at a table to his right.
Parker tops Rondo
Spurs point guard Tony Parker edged the Celtics’ Rajon Rondo to win the Skills Competition during All-Star festivities last night. Parker was the only one of six participants to break 30 seconds in the first round (29.2) and his time of 32.8 in the final run on the obstacle course was better than Rondo’s 34.6 and the Nets’ Deron Williams’s 41.4 . . . Utah’s Jeremy Evans dunked with a camera on his head, dunked two basketballs while jumping over a seated assistant, and donned a Karl Malone jersey while dunking over comedian Kevin Hart dressed in a mailman’s uniform to win the Slam Dunk Contest. Evans, who got into the competition as a replacement for injured New York guard Iman Shumpert, earned 29 percent of 3 million text message votes cast by fans. Evans earned the win over Houston’s Chase Budinger, Indiana’s Paul George, and Minnesota’s Derrick Williams . . . Minnesota forward Kevin Love won the 3-point Shootout, surviving a tiebreaker in the first round and sweating out the last few shots from Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant to pull out a 17-14 victory in the final.