Stern Blasts Racial Bias Study, Paper's Decision to Publish It

Associated Press
Saturday, May 5, 2007

NBA Commissioner David Stern criticized a study regarding racial bias among league officials and the New York Times for printing it, saying racism "doesn't exist in the NBA."

Speaking before last night's Game 6 of a playoff series between Toronto and New Jersey, Stern said of the report: "My major concern about it is that it's wrong."

"This is a bum rap, that's all," Stern said. "This is a bum rap, and if it is going to be laid on us it should be laid on us by basis of some people who are purported to be scholars in a publication that purports to hold us up to a higher standard -- a little bit more should have been done."

Justin Wolfers, an assistant professor of business and public policy at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, and Joseph Price, a Cornell graduate student in economics, found that white referees called fouls at a greater rate against black players than against white players.

The study, conducted over a 13-year span through 2004, was based on information from publicly available box scores, which show only the referees' names and contain no information about which official made a call.

"If David Stern wants to criticize the study, it has to be on some material grounds," Wolfers said.

The NBA did its own study, which it sent to Wolfers yesterday afternoon, over a more recent 2 1/2 -year span that included which referee made each call.

ยท WARNING: The NBA reminded teams in a memo this week that they are not allowed to discourage their players from competing in international competitions, shortly after Manu Ginobili said the Spurs did just that.

Ginobili recently announced that he wouldn't play for Argentina, the defending Olympic champion, in this summer's regional Olympic qualifier in Las Vegas. He wrote on his Web site that San Antonio requested he skip the event, saying that Coach Gregg Popovich gave "rather understandable arguments."

"We told him we didn't want him to go," Popovich said. "Why would we want him to go?"

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