Springfield, MA, United States (4E Sports) – Former NBA commissioner David Stern led several big names who were inducted to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Friday.
Aside from Stern, the 2014 also includes Alonzo Mourning, Mitch Richmond, Nolan Richardson, Gary Williams, Immaculata University’s AIAW national championship teams of the early 1970s, Bob Leonard, Nat Clifton, Sarunas Marciulionis and Guy Rodgers.
During his acceptance speech, Stern, who was flanked by Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Bill Russell, promoted the NBA and deflected attention from himself and his impact on the game of basketball and the league.
“I think the future is incredibly bright,” the former commissioner said at the Springfield Symphony Hall on Friday night. “The reason I am here is because of thousands of people over the years who have done so much. The league is in spectacular shape going forward under the extraordinary leadership of Adam Silver.”
Stern’s tenure was marked by the most successful period in NBA’s history as he shepherded the league onto the global stage. He helped expand the game on the backbone of the NBA’s star players, highlighted by the Dream Team’s impact at the 1992 Olympics.
During his tenure, the NBA became one of the most popular leagues in the world and increased television revenue from $10 million per year to approximately $900 million per year.
As commissioner from 1984 until he stepped down in February, Stern helped the NBA expand from 23 to 30 teams. He implemented numerous rule changes and instituted an age limit for the NBA draft.
“David Stern not only changed my life but he also made HIV and AIDS acceptable around the world,” Johnson said. “He should really be winning a Noble Peace Prize for what he did in terms of teaching people and educating people and the sports world.”
The night opened with Richmond talking about being a part of Golden State’s memorable trio of “RUN TMC” with Chris Mullin and Tim Hardaway before being traded to Sacramento, where he enjoyed some of his finest moments.
Richardson, the former Arkansas coach, delivered the most entertaining speech, captivating the audience full of basketball dignitaries for close to 30 minutes with his storytelling and beaming personality.
Mourning opened his induction by apologizing to longtime Knicks adversary Jeff Van Gundy.
“You know, watching that video up there,” Mourning said. “I tell you, it’s good to be remembered for more than just dragging Jeff Van Gundy around on my leg. … Sorry about that Jeff. Those Knicks-Heat games got pretty intense back in the day.”