NEW YORK, NY—“I am confident that we’ve taken a step closer to making sure our people always make us look good,” said Reverend Jesse Jackson, when asked how he felt about the naming of David Stern, Commissioner of the National Basketball Association, as the Commissioner of black entertainment. This role of commissioner is the first of its kind, an official post designed to monitor and regulate less than favorable behavior exhibited by black people in the public eye.
Monday night, Stern was named Commissioner after a long process with many people in the preliminary running, including Rev. Jackson, Dr. Bill Cosby, Rev. Al Sharpton and Oprah Winfrey. Filmmaker Spike Lee was ruled ineligible on the grounds of a conflict of interests.
In a very tight race between Stern and Winfrey, the NBA Commissioner edged out the media mogul because of his experience overseeing the highest concentration of rich black men in any single company. Many insiders thought such an achievement would make Stern the clear choice, but some race-related doubts from the black community kept Winfrey in the running, until she withdrew her candidacy.
Upon her withdrawal, Winfrey said, “I trust that Mr. Stern will do a fine job, as he’s done with the NBA. But he should always remember that he will be watched very closely by us all.”
In making his case for the position, Stern said, “I recognize the dire need for reforms in behavior among some African-Americans in entertainment. I also understand that these reforms are integral to the improvement of less fortunate African-American communities in the United States, as well as abroad.”
Stern went on to say, “even though many athletes and entertainers do not claim to be role models, their status in the public eye endows them with certain responsibilities, regardless of whether they want them.”
NAACP president and CEO Benjamin Jealous voiced his concerns about David Stern, but ultimately gave his endorsement: “Ideally, an African-American person would be more suitable for this position. Choosing someone outside of the race to oversee the behavior of that race is risky. But I have been pleased with his work in the NBA and I think all of his efforts will have the best interests of the race in mind.”
The news has already caused some buzz in the black community, specifically among the elderly community. Earlene Washam, 73, of Brooklyn said, “If them age requirements and dress codes n’thing he did tells it, the man could probably do some good things for all them other people been carryin’ on. Talkin’ ‘bout that damn Flavor Flav n’ them. Don’t make no kind of sense!”
David Stern is scheduled to give his inaugural address later this evening. The address will be the first time that BET and TV One simulcast an event since the inauguration of President Barack Obama. BET is scheduled to air Stern’s address on Centric as well because, as BET President and CEO Debra Lee said, “This is a happening that none of us should miss.”
The address is scheduled for 8pm. The CPT delay will not impact this broadcast since it does not apply to Stern, who is Jewish.