Stern sets retirement date
NEW YORK—David Stern took the NBA around the globe in nearly three decades as commissioner, turning what was a second-rate league into a projected $5-billion-a-year industry.
Now, confident a worthy successor is in place with a labour deal that will ensure the game’s continued growth, Stern is ready to stay home.
He will be replaced by Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver.
“I don’t know what else to say other than to recite what I told the owners yesterday [Wednesday] in executive session,” Stern said Thursday during a press conference after the board of governors’ meetings.
“I told them that it’s been a great run, it will continue for another 15 months, [and] that the league is in, I think, terrific condition.”
Stern is the one who got it there, turning a league with little-to-no TV presence—the NBA Finals were on tape delay in the early 1980s—into one that’s televised live in 215 countries and is pro sports’ leader in digital and social media.
He has been perhaps the model sports commissioner.
Name an important policy in the NBA—drug testing, salary cap, even a dress code—and Stern had a hand in it.
A lawyer by trade, he was a fearless negotiator against players and referees, but also their biggest defender any time he felt they were unfairly criticized.
“For all the things you’ve done for the NBA, and for sports generally, I think there’s no doubt that you’ll be remembered as the best of all-time as commissioners go and you’ve set the standard, I think not even just for sports league commissioners, but for CEOs in any industry,” Silver told Stern sitting to his left on a podium.
Stern told owners of his plans during their two days of meetings, and the board unanimously decided Silver would be his successor.
Owners will begin negotiations with the 50-year-old Silver in hopes of having a contract completed by their next meeting in April.
Stern, who turned 70 last month, became commissioner on Feb. 1, 1984.
He has been the NBA’s longest-serving commissioner, establishing the league’s brand around the world, presiding over team expansion, and overseeing the establishment of the WNBA and the NBA Development League.
Seven franchises have been added under Stern and the league has seen a 30-fold increase in revenues.
Stern also insisted the NBA have a presence on social media, and the league and players have more than 270 million “likes” and “followers” on Facebook and Twitter.