by Tom Withers
Associated Press Writer
CLEVELAND (AP)—NBA commissioner David Stern knows Cleveland fans are anxious about this summer and LeBron James’ pending free agency. He is rooting for the same outcome as Cavaliers fans.
“Hopefully he’ll stay,” Stern said May 3 before Game 2 between Cleveland and Boston in the Eastern Conference semifinals. “That’s the way the system is designed.”
Stern helped negotiate the current collective bargaining agreement, which provides teams the ability to pay more and add an extra year for their own free agents. Stern is hopeful that will allow teams such as Cleveland to retain its stars.
|TWO IN A ROW—NBA Commissioner David Stern, left, presents the NBA MVP trophy to Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James before Game 2 against the Boston Celtics in the second round of an NBA basketball playoff series May 3, in Cleveland.
“That’s the way it should be,” Stern said. “It allows teams to keep their own players.”
Stern awarded James his second straight MVP award on Monday. He is aware of the attention dedicated to this summer, but doesn’t want it to steal the spotlight away from the rest of the postseason or this summer’s draft. Free agency doesn’t begin until July 1.
“We do have this thing called the finals,” Stern said, “and we have some great playoff games left.”
Stern called James an “extraordinary” talent before giving the trophy shortly before tip-off to James, who won in a landslide vote announced Sunday. James is the 10th player in league history to win two straight MVP awards.
With the crowd doing its customary “M-V-P!” chant, James thanked his teammates and then reminded the 20,000-plus fans that his goal is to win a championship this season.
During a news conference, Stern said he is amazed at how James can shoot halfcourt shots with a simple flick of his wrist.
“I don’t know how he shoots the ball so far so easily,” Stern said. “You get the sense if you wanted to play H-O-R-S-E with him and it was a halfcourt line, he’d shoot 50 percent.”