NEW YORK (AP) — The boos didn’t bother David Stern one bit.
The outgoing NBA commissioner was booed and jeered at the Barclays Center every time he took the stage at his last NBA draft — and he seemed to bask in it.
“I can’t hear you,” he said Thursday night before announcing that the Washington Wizards selected Otto Porter with the third overall pick.
Several times Stern smirked and paused to let the booing last a little longer, and he even egged the crowd on with subtle hand gestures that seemed to say, ‘Bring it on.’
Later he said, “The boo is an American sign for respect,” and the line drew more boos and some laughs.
Stern is retiring in February, 30 years after taking the job. Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver will take over.
As the first round winded down, and the boo birds became less vociferous, Stern needled the crowd a bit.
“Your enthusiasm is dwindling,” he said. The fans responded with a booming boo and Stern smiled.
As he usually does, the 70-year-old Stern turned over the draft to Silver after the last pick of the first round, but he wasn’t quite done.
Before checking out, Stern was joined on stage by Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon. The former Rockets center was the first No. 1 pick Stern greeted as commissioner on draft night back in 1983. Olajuwon was wearing an almost identical outfit, black tuxedo with a red bow tie, that he wore the night he was drafted.
“I wanted to be here for your final pick,” Olajuwon said. “Thank you for an amazing 30 years.”
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.