EDS: STANDS as early lede to NBA Finals.
By BRIAN MAHONEY
AP Basketball Writer
SAN ANTONIO (AP) -David Stern knows there are people who still think the NBA's bench suspension rule is unfair and needs to be scrapped.
None, apparently, runs one of its franchises.
Stern said Thursday night there has been ``no proposal'' to change the rule, which gives a minimum one-game suspension to a player who leaves the bench during an altercation.
The rule and its application came under fire during the second round of the playoffs, when the Phoenix Suns lost two players - and perhaps along with them their chance to be in the NBA finals instead of the Spurs - before being ousted by San Antonio.
``We recently brought the subject up for discussion at our competition committee meetings,'' Stern said before Game 1 of the finals between the Spurs and Cleveland Cavaliers.
``There was no proposal to change it. Our teams are satisfied with the enforcement and generally felt that any other enforcement would have been quite questionable given the past enforcement.''
Phoenix lost All-Star center Amare Stoudemire and Boris Diaw for one game after they wandered away from the bench following Robert Horry's flagrant foul on Steve Nash in the final minute of the Suns' Game 4 victory.
Without them, the Suns lost Game 5 at home and were eliminated in Game 6.
When the suspensions were announced, Suns owner Robert Sarver said getting the rule changed would be one of his top priorities for next season. And Stern and the league have heard plenty, particularly from Phoenix fans, that the rule isn't fair.
``There's certainly, geographically located, there is a very intense segment in the state of Arizona, and it concerns me that the enforcement of the rule gives them that impression,'' Stern said. ``But it is what it is.''
The committee also discussed the lottery format, which Stern said he wanted before it was held. The results of the lottery, in which Portland, Seattle and Atlanta vaulted over teams with worse records for the top three picks, angered teams such as Memphis and Boston, which dropped to the fourth and fifth spots despite having the worst records.
But Stern said there were no good ideas, and the committee plans to discuss it again in October.
``I don't think that there's anyone that's going to be happy with whatever the system is, and I don't mean that because anyone is unfairly complaining,'' Stern said. ``It's just that there are choices to be made how you go, and any system is going to reject the choices that someone else would put forward.''
The commissioner also said he hopes to complete extensions with network partners TNT, ABC and ESPN on extensions before the end of the finals.
Otherwise, Stern called himself a ``pretty happy commissioner,'' pleased with the finals matchup and calling Tim Duncan a ``certain Hall of Famer'' and LeBron James ``the future of this league.''
``We're looking forward to the series,'' he said. ``We think it's going to be absolutely terrific.''

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