OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -Even NBA commissioner David Stern has caught Golden State Warriors playoff fever.
Stern attended Golden State's first home playoff game in 13 years, saying he was excited to see the team's postseason drought end and that it was a validation of the league's desire to give all franchises a chance to compete.
``With respect to Golden State, yes it's exciting for the team to be in the playoffs,'' Stern said before Game 3 of Golden State's first-round series against the Dallas Mavericks. ``Yes, they have the most loyal fans through thick and thin. And yes, it's been a little thin of late. Do I like it? I love it.''
Golden State's playoff-starved fans did as well. With most of the crowd decked out in yellow T-shirts saying ``We Believe,'' the Warriors were expecting the biggest crowd ever for an NBA game in California.
Golden State hadn't been to the playoffs since 1994. The team traded 1993 No. 1 overall pick Chris Webber the following season after he clashed with coach Don Nelson, dealt with the aftermath of Latrell Sprewell choking coach P.J. Carlesimo in 1997, and made a series of personnel moves that didn't pan out.
``We watch and honestly we thought that the franchise was a little bit snake bitten in terms of some things that didn't work out for them in the way the team was broken up and the way they tried to do things,'' Stern said. ``We saw ownership really trying hard to do what seemed to be conventional wisdom and intelligent to do and it didn't work. That sometimes happens. We're glad that they so-called broke the jinx.''
In other topics, Stern said:
-The league has the power to suspend players who have not been convicted of crimes like the NFL did with Tennessee cornerback Adam ``Pacman'' Jones, but that ``our history has been that for us the way to go is to await the outcome of the judicial proceeding.''
-He was pleased with the new 19-year age requirement in the league and would consider seeking to raise that by a year in the next collective bargaining agreement.
-He had not talked directly with suspended referee Joey Crawford, but planned to do that over the summer. Stern said he also hoped that Crawford would return to officiating.
-He hoped to have a proposal for a new arena in Sacramento before the start of next season.
-He would like to punish players for flopping in hopes of drawing an offensive foul, but the competition committee was not interested in addressing that topic at its latest meeting.
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