NBA commissioner David Stern announced today that he plans to retire on February 1, 2014, thirty years to the day after he initially received the job title. It’s hard to find a commissioner that has grown his sport more in his tenure than Stern has in his. He relocated six franchises, added seven teams to the league, spread the game internationally and created both the WNBA and D – League.
Stern will be the first to admit that he took over as commissioner at the right time. After the Celtics dynasty of the 1960′s had fallen, the 1970′s was not a good decade of professional basketball. Of course, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird were drafted in 1979 and the league received some marketing help with the renewing of the Celtics – Lakers rivalry. The 1980′s were called the “Golden Age” of basketball with superstars such as Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwan, Charles Barkley, John Stockton and others entering the league at the same time.
These players helped form the 1992 USA Olympic team, also known as The Dream Team. This team represented the first ever Olympics where NBA players could play and the fanfare around them was a major force in spreading the game internationally. Players such as Dirk Nowitzki, Pau and Marc Gasol, and Manu Ginobli all may not have come over to the NBA had it not been for the dream team.
Even with all the improvements in professional basketball over the past thirty years, there is definitely still some problems. Many small market teams complain about the forming of super teams such as the Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers. In order for a small market team to compete, they would have to get lucky in the draft on more than one occasion such as the Oklahoma City Thunder did. Another change that could be seen soon is a full minor league system that over takes the D – League.
Commissioners are judged liked presidents, such as their success as a leader is judged by how things went during the time they were in charge. Stern should be considered a great commissioner simply because of how well the NBA did during his thirty years of office. Surely there were some moments that seemed shady, such as the lottery system of the draft, but overall Stern has grown the sport and should forever have a positive legacy.
About the Author
Written by Brendan Tuma
I'm currently a sophomore at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst studying sport management with a minor in education. I'm an avid sports fan particularly baseball, basketball, football, and fantasy sports. I've interned with the Worcester Tornadoes, who are an independent league baseball team and work for UMass baseball as well. I hope to someday be a major fixture in the world of sports.