OTC: Jim Rome Gets Into Verbal Bout W/ NBA’s David Stern / You Pick The Winner

“Was the fix in for the [NBA] lottery?”
Jim Rome, in an interview Wednesday with NBA commissioner David Stern, The Jim Rome Show
GH: With this question to Stern, Jim Rome touched off maybe his second most controversial interview in his professional career. Read on for some excerpts from the interview which deteriorated quickly into a nasty little cat fight.

“You know, I have two answers for that. I’ll give you the easy one — no. And a statement: Shame on you for asking.”
David Stern, in response to Rome’s above question, The Jim Rome Show
GH: I have listened to this interview and read comments from others on their opinion of the interview. I do not think Rome’s question was unfair but it was hardly one that Stern should be expected to take seriously. Rome disagreed. Read on.

“I know that you think it’s ridiculous. But I don’t think the question is ridiculous, because I know people think that. … I’m not saying I do, but I think it’s fair to ask you that.”
Jim Rome, The Jim Rome Show
GH: Rome commits one of the most egregious crimes in interviewing with the “I know people think that.  I’m not saying I do…” There are people who think Elvis is still alive. Just because somewhere someone has a conspiracy theory, it is no reason for Stern to take those questions seriously or add credence to them by taking them seriously.

“Have you stopped beating your wife yet?”
David Stern, in an attempt to turn the tables on the interviewer, The Jim Rome Show
GH: This textbook trap question seemed to upset Rome and calm Stern. Obviously Stern was not accusing Rome of wife beating, but merely asking the question put Rome on the defensive. Rome’s voice, inflection and demeanor took on a sense of panic. It was evident to me that Rome lost his composure after this throwaway question from Stern.

“Yeah, I don’t know if that’s fair. … Because I think that—and I know you read your emails and you follow things virally on Twitter—people really do think it, whether it’s fair or not.”
Jim Rome, The Jim Rome Show
GH: Rome either didn’t understand what Stern was doing or is very poor at masking his nerves. He got a bit unhinged from this point on in the interview.

“Well, they think it because of people like you.”
David Stern, The Jim Rome Show
GH: Rome has an inflated opinion of his position in sports journalism. He’s a sports talk host who entertains and titillates his audience. He is not a bastion of integrity when it comes to professional journalism. Jim Everett anyone? But he bristled at the thought that Stern would think he was using the interview as a prop for his show. Read on.

“I would not hold [a grudge] against you. You and I have been in more contentious discussions than that. Well it’s good copy, and you do things sometimes for cheap thrills.”
David Stern, The Jim Rome Show

“I did not do that for a cheap thrill. That’s not what that was. I got no thrill out of that.”
Jim Rome, The Jim Rome Show

“It’s a cheap trick. … You’ve been successful making a career out of it.”
David Stern, The Jim Rome Show

“Making a career out of what, though? See, I take offense to that. Making a career out of what?”
Jim Rome, The Jim Rome Show

“Listen, I gotta go call somebody important like Stephen A Smith now—he’s up next.”
David Stern, The Jim Rome Show
GH: You can listen to much of the interview here. Listen to the calmness in Stern’s voice and the escalating shrillness of Rome’s. Stern was right, it does make good copy.

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About Greg Hall

Software guy who has been writing my Off The Couch column in KC newspapers, publications and websites since 1994. Has been bounced from some of the finest media establishments this side of State Line Road. Dad first and everything else second...and there are a lot of everything elses.
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27 Responses to OTC: Jim Rome Gets Into Verbal Bout W/ NBA’s David Stern / You Pick The Winner

  1. Scott Simon says:

    Greg, great column and a reason why you’re still one of the best sports media critics in the country. Thought you’d enjoy the column about the Rome/Stern interaction from media consultant Tripp Frolichstein who was a media columnist for the Riverfront Times when I did the same thing over at the Suburban Journals. He’s one of the best in the country too for television analysis. http://www.ragan.com/Main/Articles/45056.aspx

    • Greg Hall says:

      Thanks for the link to Tripp’s column. I would disagree with his comment that Stern missed an opportunity to promote the NBA and the playoffs.

      “Stern was wrong. Almost any question is fair. Knowing how to answer tough or even insulting questions is the key. The key is to anticipate and embrace tough questions…. In this case, Stern had an opportunity to talk about the NBA’s integrity. Instead, we got involved in a personality conflict, impeding Stern’s ability to promote the league and the finals currently in progress.”

      Stern’s flippant responses to Rome is why this otherwise insignificant interview went viral. Media outlets everywhere debated who won or who was right. Stern looks far more media savvy that Tripp allows.

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