Stern Leaves Behind Unforgettable Legacy


Former NBA Commissioner David Stern passed away last week after suffering a brain hemorrhage approximately three weeks ago. Stern’s no-nonsense attitude often drew the ire of most basketball fans, players and even owners. Despite this, Stern should be credited for helping grow the game of basketball into the global phenomenon it is today. During his 30-year span as commissioner, Stern would become the longest-tenured commissioner in the history of major North American sports leagues.


Tape Delay & Cocaine

David Stern took the reigns as Commissioner on February 1, 1984, succeeding Larry O’Brien. Stern took over at a time when the cocaine epidemic swept through the NBA throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s. The general public viewed the league as a drug-riddled league played by predominately African Americans, manifesting disgusting stereotypes that existed during the 70’s.

This general consensus led CBS to infamously tape delay well into the late 1980’s despite CBS’s production values during that time. Prior to being commissioner, Stern served as the NBA’s Executive Vice President and implemented drug testing as well as team salary caps with the NBA Players’ Association. Stern would help guide the league through abating viewership en route to global growth.

Larry, Magic, Jordan

Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan are credited as “saving” the NBA during its dark times under O’Brien. Magic and Larry’s rivalry. The Lakers and Celtics clashed throughout the 1980’s during the NBA Finals. Ironically, their first meeting since the Russell/Chamberlain era was in 1984 when the Celtics defeated the showtime Lakers in seven games. The following year, the Lakers would have their revenge by defeating the Celtics at home during game six of the NBA Finals. In the 1987 Finals, the Lakers would win the rubber match between the two once again, emerging victorious in six games. Larry and Magic’s contrasts are what made them so compelling to the general audience and forced you to pick a side to root for.

Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon, John Stockton and Charles Barkley. You’d be hard pressed to find a more-talented draft than the 1984 NBA Draft. Jordan was drafted with high expectations but no one thought he’d become the global icon he is to this day. He had his official coming out party when he unleashed 63 points during the first round of the playoffs against the Larry Bird-led Boston Celtics in 1986. MJ would also sign a lucrative deal with Nike that would globally market the superstar. The legacy of Jordan includes six championships as well as countless MVP’s throughout his storied career.

Canada, eh?

In 1995, the NBA headed north of the border into Canada. This would be the home of two new NBA franchises– the Vancouver Grizzlies and the Toronto Raptors. During Stern’s tenure as NBA commissioner, he would help usher in seven new franchises (Grizzlies, Raptors, Hornets, Timberwolves, Heat, Magic, Bobcats). These teams would make up the 30 franchises we currently have in today’s NBA. The Miami Heat and Toronto Raptors are currently the only expansion teams to win an NBA Championship.

Seattle Supersonic-less

2007 was a sad year for Seattle basketball fans and NBA fans everywhere. The storied franchise relocated to Oklahoma City, becoming the Thunder that we know today. Stern surprisingly injected himself into the controversy surrounding the purchase and relocation of the Seattle Sonics. This move came as a surprise, as Seattle was a much bigger market than OKC and was an accomplished franchise. The Supersonics won an NBA Championship in 1979 led by Dennis Johnson and Gus Williams. Other notable legends included Lenny Wilkens, Ray Allen, Gary Payton, and Shawn Kemp.

2011- A Year To Forget

2011 was arguably Stern’s worst year as Commissioner of the NBA. The league experienced its second lockout (1998-99) which costed numerous regular season games. Stern was also centered in another controversy that would occur on December 8th, 2011. This of course was the was the infamous veto of the Chris Paul trade. This three-team trade would have sent Chris Paul to the Lakers, Lamar Odom to the Hornets, and Pau Gasol to the Rockets. The then New Orleans Hornets were owned by the league and would see their superstar player traded away for pennies on the dollar. There was negative push back from the media, fans, as well as players as a result of the veto. The veto was disparaged because of the conflict of interest between the league’s ownership of one of its teams.

Stern Stepping Down, a Silver Lining

On October 25th, 2012, David Stern announced that he would officially step down as commissioner on February 1st, 2014. He was succeeded by current NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. Stern was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame and FIBA Hall of Fame following his 30-year tenure as NBA Commissioner.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @TLSportsMedia for the latest NBA news and insight.

About Darrien Null

Hometown: Strasburg, PA. Contributor for Sixers Lead.

Recommended for you

Powered by