- Posted: 3:29 PM, June 13, 2012
“Have you stopped beating your wife yet?” the NBA commissioner asked the host during an appearance Wednesday.
Rome has no history of domestic violence and it seemed like Stern was answering a loaded question with another.
The fast-talking sports personality, who is now with CBS after a long run with ESPN, seemed stunned by Stern’s quip.
“I don’t know if that’s fair,” Rome said of the retort.
Rome and CBS would later send out a statement on the controversy.
"It was a rhetorical device. A lot of people don’t know that phrase (‘Have you stopped beating your wife yet?’). They didn’t know where he was going," Rome said. "I understood it. I didn’t take great offense to it. I didn’t agree with it. But the fact of the matter is I thought my question was direct and it was not a loaded question. So I thought that analogy was inappropriate. My point is, I don’t think that it’s fixed (the NBA Draft). Even after that conversation, I don’t think that it’s fixed. But I thought the question was fair."
Things got ugly thereafter. Stern flatly denied the accusation that the draft lottery was set up to give the Hornets, currently owned by the NBA, the top pick and the opportunity to pick Kentucky star Anthony Davis. Rome said he didn’t believe it was, but that people are speculating.
“That’s not a question I’ve been asked before by a respectable journalist,” Stern said.
But the idea that the NBA lottery is fixed not a new one: Many have suggested that the 1985 one that gave the Knicks the top pick and Patrick Ewing was set up to bring a top-market team back to prominence.
"I was not looking to start anything," Rome said in a statement. "I thought it was a soft ball question, to be honest. I thought it was an easy question. I thought he’d say, ‘Come on, are you kidding? Conspiracy theories? The only people who believe that are whack jobs and people that are out of hand.’"
Stern went on to say that Rome has made a career of “cheap thrills,” to which the host took offense. Stern found it amusing that Rome was “pouting” and the interview ended there, because Rome said he was "out of time” – not because he was hanging up on Stern.
“I gotta call somebody important like (ESPN analyst) Stephen A. Smith now,” Stern said as he signed off.
Audio via The Big Lead