David Stern stunned everyone a little yesterday with the sudden announcement that he will end his time as NBA Commissioner in February, 2014. There is no question his popularity is not what it once was with people. For many years he was thought of as the best Commissioner in pro sports in North America. There is no question he is responsible for growing this league and has expanded it along the way.
Back in the late 80’s he started expansion and adding teams in Miami, Minnesota, Orlando and Charlotte. Three of those four franchises remain in the league. Charlotte left and returned as the Bobcats with a second expansion franchise.
He has made some decisions along the way that have not been popular with folks like the dress code he brought into the league in response to “Hip Hop” style dressing that was most notable with players like Allen Iverson. He allowed teams to move from places that were not popular with public, like the move of Seattle to Oklahoma City.
What he also did was have a league that had Michael Jordan and was able to keep it rolling after all of his retirements. There is no question that the growth of this league can be tied back to Larry Bird and Magic Johnson and than Jordan. Stern was able to take that and grow and expand on that.
He has had to deal with several CBA Wars, a referee scandal and countless other issues along the way. He has had to deal with many who look at the league's lottery system and wonder out loud if it is fixed. There was the "Malice at the Palace", as well which was a black eye on the sport of basketball and the NBA.
What he also did and most notable to this blog and this country is expanded into Canada. He brought in the Raptors and the Grizzlies. The Raptors survived and the Grizzlies failed. However at the end of the day if not for Stern am I writing this blog and are you reading it? The answer is probably not.
You may not have liked everything that David Stern has done but he has a long legacy of things he has done right. Here is a scary thought for basketball fans. Let’s say Stern left long before now. You could have had Gary Bettman running the NBA. He came to the NHL after serving in NBA as Deputy Commissioner.
I have never been a David Stern hater. I don’t always agree with him. That said I respect his longevity and the fact that he is the guy that decided to take a chance on this country and bring the NBA back to Canada. So thanks David Stern, who knows what I would be doing had you not done that. I might have to be writing about a hockey lockout. Shutter the thought.