NBA Commissioner David Stern leaves after a press conference at the NBA board of governors meeting. Stern will formally step aside on Feb. 1, 2014, after 30 years and Deputy Commission Adam Silver will become the new league commissioner. (Bebeto Matthews / Associated Press)
New York — The 2-3-2 NBA Finals format is following David Stern out of the league.
NBA owners unanimously voted Wednesday to return to the 2-2-1-1-1 format, believing the travel inconveniences that teams faced when Stern became commissioner nearly 30 years ago no longer exist.
Beginning with the 2014 Finals, the higher-seeded team will host Games 1, 2, 5 and 7. The lower seed gets Games 3, 4 and 6, following the same format the NBA uses in all other rounds.
The current format was instituted in 1985, Stern’s first full year in charge, in part to ease the amount of cross-country travel with the Celtics and Lakers frequently meeting for the championship.
But critics felt it gave an edge to the lower-seeded team.
“There certainly was a perception … it was unfair to the team that had the better record, that it was then playing the pivotal Game 5 on the road,” NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver said. “So this obviously moves that game back to giving home-court advantage to the team with the better record if it’s a 2-2 series.”
The vote came during Stern’s final preseason meeting with his board of governors. Owners also voted to add an extra day between Games 6 and 7.
The change to the 2-3-2 format was one of the earliest made by Stern, who has often said he was acting on advice — or complaints — about the travel from former Celtics boss Red Auerbach. But with commercial flights long since replaced by charters, teams didn’t have the same difficulties now with the number of trips.
Beyond the re-election of Spurs owner Peter Holt as chairman, there was little other business for the owners, who toasted Stern during dinner Tuesday night. Stern said there was a video tribute voiced by Bill Russell, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, along with “some speechifying” and “a series of totally embarrassing photos of me over the last 36 years.”
The Cavaliers picked up the fourth-year contract options on All-Star guard Kyrie Irving and forward Tristan Thompson.The team also exercised the third-year options on guard Dion Waiters and forward Tyler Zeller.
... Kings assistant Brendan Malone resigned.
Malone, a former Pistons assistant, is the father of new Kings coach Michael Malone. Chris Jent will assume Brendan Malone’s responsibilities as the lead assistant.