New York, NY, United States (4E Sports) – David Stern will step down as NBA commissioner Saturday as he marks the 30th anniversary of the day he assumed the role.
He was credited for his ability to sustain the fine work of his predecessors, while pouncing on the evolution of the times that were growing up around him.
When Stern was handed the NBA leadership in 1984 from the late Lawrence O’Brien, a drug-testing program and salary-cap system were already agreed upon and in the stages of being implemented.
Superstars Magic Johnson and Larry Bird were already in their fifth seasons, and the NBA was just months away from drafting Charles Barkley, John Stockton, Karl Malone and Michael Jordan.
With TVs turning to color, and more and more fans interested in watching teams in Los Angeles and Boston play basketball, the thirst was there when Stern took over.
But he made sure the league expanded international relations, embraced cable and satellite television, and recognized the power of the Internet.
Stern adeptly navigated a fertile era that allowed for such significant growth, turning a million-dollar industry into a multibillion-dollar worldwide phenomenon.
But he was blamed for looking away when owners in Charlotte and Los Angeles did terrible things to their fan bases and when a new Seattle SuperSonics owner, with obvious designs of never attempting to stay, sold the team to an ownership group in another city.
Stern twice locked NBA players out of the contracts they had legally signed to in order to secure enhanced profits for his owners.
It was felt that though the NBA is more popular than ever, both the league and the game’s growth were significantly set back so that Stern could please his 30 team owners.