David Stern: How He Changed the NBA for the Better


Jun 27, 2013; Brooklyn, NY, USA; NBA commissioner David Stern speaks after the first round of the 2013 NBA Draft at the Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

– David Stern is set to retire 30 years to the date of his first day on the job, February 1st. On the eve of his departure, let us take a look at the legacy he has created for himself as arguably the greatest sports commissioner of all-time.

David Stern has been one of the best things to happen to the National Basketball Association since the creation of the league. During David Stern’s 30 year reign as NBA commissioner, he has changed the league for the better. Stern has added 7 NBA franchises; he has dramatically increased national television exposure, and has created a growing fan base overseas.

Stern joined the NBA back in the year 1974 as a General Counsel, and then became the NBA’s Executive Vice President in 1980. After four years in that position, Stern became head of the National Basketball Association in 1984. Stern became the commissioner on February 1st, 1984, succeeding Larry O’Brien. Over his 30 years on the job Stern has done great for the NBA as well as the sporting world.

One of the biggest landmark decisions of David Stern’s career came early on when the league and its players were questioned and judged on the drug problem in the game. Stern and the NBA player association tackled this problem and put an end to it as soon as possible. Strict rules were created to stop players from using performance enhancing drugs.

Stern and the rest of the league council issued several new drug tests to combat this issue and clean up the game. Now, the league is praised and is modeled after for their job that they do to take performance enhancing drugs out of their sport.

During the late 1980’s and early 90’s the NBA introduced the greatest player in NBA history in Michael Jordan. With the arrival of Jordan came a new era of commercial advertising for the NBA, the league also started shoe contracts which Stern turned into publicity for his league. Jordan, Bird, and Magic took the league in the 1980’s to new heights, publicity, and profits.

Since Stern has been a part of the NBA he has seen the league expand from 10 franchises to 30 (since 1966). Stern also saw the league expand into another country in Canada.

The first franchise ever outside of the United States, the Toronto Raptors, was established in September of 1993. NBA brought yet another franchise across the border in 1995 when the NBA established yet another new franchise the Vancouver Grizzlies. The Grizzlies would not stay across the border though; they would later be relocated to Memphis, Tennessee.

David Stern has dramatically improved the NBA for the better, while the league will have to trust that the next commissioner, Adam Silver will be as good for the league as Stern was. Stern is set to retire from his duties as NBA commissioner on February 1st, 2014, 30 years after his first day on the job.

Since then, he has increased the league’s revenue 30-fold and has expanded franchises outside of the United States. It would be an understatement to call David Stern a “good” thing for the sport; he transformed the sport of basketball as a whole, and into the second most popular sport worldwide.

As we say “so long” to David Stern, let’s realize all that he has done for the NBA, the business of sports, and basketball itself.

Thank you, and good luck in your future endeavors Mr. Stern.