The way he tells it, it just so happens NBA Commissioner David Stern came here on the verge of Kobe Bryant becoming the fifth player to eclipse 30,000 points.

He actually set foot here to meet with Hornets owner Tom Benson, but Stern sounded giddy about seeing the Lakers' star making history.

"I want to shake his hand. I think Kobe as a talent and a competitor, he's up there on the pedestal with Michael Jordan as one of the greatest ever," Stern said. "Kobe has had such an extraordinary run playing at the highest level for so long and the championships to prove it in a league that is extremely competitive.

"Kobe and the Lakers have been an important part of the league and I wish them well for this season and beyond."

Stern still provided little sympathy for the Lakers having to pay harsh luxury tax penalties because of a $100 million payroll. The Lakers, after all, are in the first year of a lucrative 20-year deal with Time Warner Cable.

"It's one component of Lakers income that gets accounted for when they make a payment in the revenue sharing pool," Stern said of the team's cable deal. "There's more money to be shared. The combination of that and the tax tend to act as a brake on team spending."

It's safe to assume Stern met with Benson, in part to talk about the team proposing to change its name for the 2013-14 season.