David Stern embraces nearing retirement
by Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY Sports
For a man who says he’s not one for nostalgia, NBA Commissioner David Stern sure enjoyed the customary boos from fans at the 2013 NBA draft in Brooklyn.
Just before announcing the first pick, he heard a lone boo, paused and with his right hand encouraged fans to turn up the volume.
And just before announcing the third pick, Stern taunted fans: “I can’t hear you.”
The boos came louder. Stern, smiling, gave a thumbs-up.
Later in the first round, Stern hammed it up again, telling the crowd and TV audience, “We’ve had to explain to our international audience that the boo is an American sign of respect.”
Whether nostalgic or not, Stern recognized the moment. It was his last draft as NBA commissioner, and he wanted to enjoy the moment.
And at that point, he received applause, the crowd recognizing a remarkable career that altered the course not only of the NBA but all pro sports leagues. He took over as commissioner just as stars aligned (Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Michael Jordan), helped lift the NBA out of a dark period and turned the league into a multibillion-dollar business with a global reach.
“David is the one who turned sport leagues into brands,” deputy commissioner Adam Silver said.
Smart, savvy, competitive, charming, forward-thinking, sarcastic, confrontational, humorous and stubborn, Stern is considered one of the greatest commissioners in sports history. That will not change when he steps down Feb. 1, 30 years to the day he took over, and hands the job to Silver.
“One of the best things that an executive can do is provide for a plan of succession, and when I step down … Adam Silver will have worked with me in five different capacities for 22 years,” Stern said. “I consider that succession plan to be one of the best things that I’ve done in the job.”
There have been problems under Stern’s watch but they don’t detract from the financial and worldwide growth.
“David has been, in my estimation, the type of commissioner that has set the standard not only for the NBA but for all of the sports,” Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor said. … [For more on David Stern embraces nearing retirement with wide grin, click here.]