NBA commissioner David Stern got into a heated exchange with Jim Rome on Wednesday when the radio host asked him if the New Orleans Hornets winning the draft lottery was fixed.
"I know that you appreciate a good conspiracy theory as much as the next guy, was the fix in for the lottery?" asked Rome, who hosts a daily show on CBS Sports Network.
"I have two answers for that," Stern said. "The simple easy one, no; the second, a statement, shame on you for asking."
Rome went on to say that he thought it was his job to ask because people wonder.
"No, it's ridiculous, but that's OK," Stern said.
Rome, who used to host the show "Jim Rome Is Burning" on ESPN, said he didn't think the question was ridiculous.
Stern responded: "Have you stopped beating your wife yet?"
Since Rome has no history of spousal abuse, it appears the commissioner was using a traditional loaded question as a tool to make his point -- that the question itself, in this case about the lottery, presumes guilt.
Rome responded: "I don't think that's fair."
After a little more back and forth, Rome said he hoped Stern wouldn't hold the question against him.
"I wouldn't hold it against you," Stern said. "You and I have been in more contentious talks than that. But it's good copy. You do these things for cheap thrills."
Rome took offense to that statement, and Stern changed his characterization.
"Cheap trick," he said. "You've been successful in making a career of it, and I keep coming on."
That prompted a flurry of exchanges:
Rome: "Making a career of it? Making a career of what? What? Cheap thrills?"
Stern: "Now you're getting mad. You're taking on the world and now Jim Rome is pouting."
Rome: "I'm not pouting. I'm taking offense."
Stern: "You want to hang up on me?"
Rome: "No, I'm seriously running out of time."
Stern: "Listen, I gotta go call somebody important like Stephen A. Smith back. He's next."
Rome: "OK, you go make that call and I'll go talk to somebody else, too, I guess. Have a nice day. I did not hang up on him, we are officially out of time."
Rome said later Wednesday on his TV show on CBS Sports Network that he didn't take great offense, calling Stern's phrase a "rhetorical device" that some fans may not understand but he did. He defended his question, saying he doesn't believe the lottery is fixed but that it was fair to ask.
information from The Associated Press was used in this report.