Mike Silva's Sports Media Watchdog » Blog Archive » Chris Sheridan vs David Stern: This is How You Conduct an Interview

Chris Sheridan vs David Stern: This is How You Conduct an Interview

By Mike Silva ~ February 28th, 2012. Filed under: Outside the Apple.

Forget the skills competition, 3-point contest, dunk contest, Jeremy Lin or Lebron in the 4th quarter; the real story at NBA All Star Weekend – at least for me – was former ESPN journalist Chris Sheridan challenging David Stern on the vetoed Chris Paul trade to the Lakers from earlier this year.

We have seen these media congregation all too often. The writers stand around a commissioner – in this case Stern- ask a few questions and get a live version of an NBA press release. Stern isn’t an easy guy to interview, as his legal background allows him to “bob and weave” with the best of them. He gladly would tell everyone about the great job the city of Orlando was doing or what a great story that Jeremy Lin is; ask him about the city of Seattle or Chris Paul and you get the death stare. Most writers want their quotes and run along to file another “puff piece” that fills space and meets their editors demands. Chris Sheridan, now an independent journalist, doesn’t have that luxury nor desire; he actually went into the Stern congregation looking for information.

Sheridan worked for the Associated Press for 18 years before joining ESPN in 2005. Last year, there were reports he filed a libel suit against Peter Vecsey of the NY Post when Vecsey suggested his reporting was “make-believe.” There was some speculation that Sheridan’s ESPN departure was due to the suit, although I have yet to read confirmation of that from Sheridan.

He launched Sheridan Hoops before the season, which has become more of a pro hoops destination for me than ESPN or NBA.com. It’s a site that has good information, strong opinion and intelligent writing that also includes international coverage.

Everyone knows that Stern vetoed the Paul to the Lakers deal over objections from the other owners.  The original deal would have New Orleans sending Paul to the Lakers for F Lamar Odom (from LA Lakers), SG Kevin Martin (from HOU Rockets), PF Luis Scola (from HOU Rockets), and PG Goran Dragic (from HOU Rockets). Houston would land PF Pau Gasol (from LA Lakers).

That deal was overturned by the NBA and Paul went to the Clippers for SG Eric Gordon, C Chris Kaman, SF Al-Farouq Aminu and their unprotected 2012 first-round draft pick to the New Orleans Hornets for Paul and a pair of 2015 second-round picks.

Any educated NBA fan can see the original deal involved more talent and a better return for the Hornets. So the obvious question is why did Stern allow the owners to pressure him into overturning the transaction?

Sheridan elected to not only question Stern about the deal, but push him when the response was less than forthright. Here’s the transcript:

Sheridan.  It’s been two months now since you vetoed the Chris Paul to the Lakers trade, and it’s given you two months of the benefit of hindsight and two months to look at the impact it’s had on several teams, the Clippers, the Lakers and especially the Hornets.  Given the benefit of that hindsight, was that veto, since you’ve never done one before, the right thing to do, and why?

Stern:  You’ve been around too long to phrase the question that way.  I didn’t veto anything.  We are acting on behalf of the owners, as the owners’ rep. New Orleans decided not to make the trade.

Sheridan.  Well, whose decision was it to stop the trade?

Stern:  No, not to stop.  There’s no superstar that gets traded in this league unless the owner says, go ahead with it.  And in the case of New Orleans, the representative of the owner said, “That’s not a trade we’re going to make.”

Sheridan.  But that representative was you?

Stern:  Correct.

Sheridan.  So in effect then, you said the trade is not going to go through?

Stern:  I said that New Orleans would not make the trade that had been proposed to them.

Sheridan:  And was that the right move to make?

Stern:  You know, buy a ticket and see.  We’ll see how it works out.

Sheridan.  I hate to press you on it, and I don’t want to break decorum ‑‑

Stern:  No, that’s okay, go ahead.

Sheridan.  The Hornets didn’t make out as well in that trade as they would have made out in the earlier trade in terms of talent.  The best player they’ve got is injured and the draft pick is the same draft pick.

Stern:  I could go toe to toe.  It wouldn’t be breaking decorum, it would be taking a lot of people’s time.  You’re arguing whether we thought Marc Gasol would be an All‑Star.

Sheridan:  I think we’ve always been in agreement on that.

Stern:  You knew he was going to be an All‑Star?

Sheridan:  Absolutely, sir.  I cover a lot of international basketball.

Stern:  Okay, I have no further questions for the witness then.  Next question.

Give Sheridan credit for not allowing Stern to “piss on his leg and tell him it’s raining.” He came prepared with information and pressed Stern in an assertive, but not disrespectful manner.

Would the suits at ESPN – an NBA partner- been happy with Sheridan pushing the Commissioner as he did? With well over 20 year’s experience, Sheridan probably had a better chance of getting away with it than newer writers. Obviously, working for himself doesn’t come with such concerns.

This is how you talk about sports. This is how newspaper writing, radio and television should be conducted. It’s not about trivia, lazy memes or “how do you feel” questions. We complain about how society is “dumber,” but our news outlets are participating in the dumbing down- sports reporting being one of the main culprits!

Saturation of media has given fans choices. Those that provide intelligent content where the reader/viewer/listener learns something will rise to the top.

Chris Sheridan is one of the guys that “get it.”


You can follow him on Twitter @sheridanhoops or go to sheridanhoops.com


I also want to give Justin Termine of Mad Dog Radio kudos for bringing up this issue, along with the city of Seattle, in an interview on Mad Dog Radio. Unfortunately, that station does not podcast their interviews in full so I can’t point you in the direction of a replay

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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1 Response to Chris Sheridan vs David Stern: This is How You Conduct an Interview

  1. Mike Silva's New York Baseball Digest » Blog Archive » Even the Charming Fred Wilpon Can’t Sell This Tired & Weary Fan Base

    [...] many holes in Wilpon’s statements yesterday that I was waiting for them to take the cue from Chris Sheridan and his David Stern interview and really challenge some of his responses. Again, they tried, but this was probably a job for [...]

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