David Stern’s tenure as NBA commissioner has come to a graceful end. The league announced on its Twitter page Saturday morning that the Stern era is officially over.
Stern took over the league in 1983 and achieved an enormous amount of success as the commissioner over the past 30 years.
One of Stern’s most notable accomplishments as commissioner was league expansion. He took over an NBA made up of 23 teams and expanded it by nearly 25% with 7 expansion teams.
Likewise, Stern expanded the league enormously overseas. In 1983, when Stern took over as commissioner, the league only broadcasted games in two countries. Fast forward thirty years and the NBA now broadcasts in 247 countries.
Before he could expand overseas, Stern had to deal with a league that was on the verge of bankruptcy. Not many believed the NBA could become a profitable entity. However, Stern turned the NBA into a profit machine. Today, there are at least three NBA franchises that are worth north of $1-billion.
Additionally, the annual NBA television revenue thirty years ago was less than $30-million. The current NBA television revenue is near $1-billion, which comes via network deals the NBA has with ABC/ESPN and TNT.
There are many Stern critics out there who say the man simply became commissioner at the right time. Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, and Larry Bird became NBA fixtures roughly around the same time Stern took over as commissioner. Though Stern knew and understood the importance of the players. He promoted the NBA as a players’ league and as a result he brought the league into unfathomable economic success.
In addition to team and economic expansion, Stern is also responsible for the formation of the WNBA, which has allowed women the opportunity to play professional basketball. Not only did Stern help launch the WNBA, but the league is becoming more and more popular.
Similarly to the WNBA, Stern helped create the NBA Development League. The D-League serves as the NBA’s minor league system and gives potential NBA prospects the chance to sharpen their skills for the NBA.
As mentioned, Stern believed in making the NBA all about the players. He implemented a hand-checking rule that curtailed the way many players defended around the league. Some players were in favor of this rule, but there were many who spoke out against it. Consequently, the rule allowed for high scoring games and an overall increase in offensive around the league. Many believe that Stern’s hand-checking rule made NBA games more desirable to fans which resulted in larger league profits.
However David Stern is viewed, there is no denying just how big of an impact he stamped on the NBA.
Stern’s globalization of the NBA will go down as his defining mark. The entire world tunes in for NBA games, which is something not the NFL, MLB, and NHL cannot say. Stern has simply made the NBA a global enterprise.
David Stern expanded the NBA brand at a level that many believed was not possible. And for that Mr. Stern, basketball fans all over the world thank you.