NEW YORK — David Stern’s NBA owners gathered one last time, toasting the outgoing commissioner before he leaves after 30 years on the job.
They also changed back one of the earliest changes Stern made.
Leaving with Stern is the NBA Finals format he implemented in his first full year on the job, one that alleviated travel concerns but critics felt gave an advantage to the lower-seeded team.
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.
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The NBA for the previous 29 years has used what’s referred to as the 2-3-2 format, in which the higher seed hosts the first two games, then goes on the road for three straight.
The 2-3-2 format was instituted in 1985 in part to ease the amount of cross-country travel with the Celtics and Lakers frequently meeting for the championship. But some felt it also worked against the team that should have the advantage.
“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. 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,” deputy commissioner Adam Silver said.
The unanimous vote to approve the 2-2-1-1-1 format came Wednesday 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 competition committee had recommended the change last month back to 2-2-1-1-1, which was used in all but one Finals from 1957 to 1984.
Stern has often said he was acting on advice — or complaints — about the travel from former Celtics boss Red Auerbach when the Finals format was switched. But with commercial flights long since replaced by charters, teams didn’t have the same difficulties now with the number of trips.
Instead, the ones who had the higher seed found it more inconvenient, Stern said, to be on the road for as many as eight days in a row when the opponent hosted the middle three games.
Silver will become commissioner after Stern retires Feb. 1.
• Former Huskies star Isaiah Thomas scored 21 points to help the host Sacramento Kings rally in the fourth quarter and beat Golden State 91-90 in an exhibition game.
• LeBron James scored 27 points, Dwyane Wade added 25 and the Miami Heat handed the host New Orleans Pelicans their first exhibition loss, 108-95. Greg Oden saw his first game action, getting two points and two rebounds in four minutes.
• The Cleveland Cavaliers picked up the fourth-year options on All-Star guard Kyrie Irving and forward Tristan Thompson.