David Stern retires as commissioner
By Courtnie Martin, Sports Reporter
After 30 years as commissioner of the NBA—making him longest serving commissioner in sports history—David Stern is slated to resign on February 1. During his tenure he successfully transformed the league into a compelling cash cow for all parties involved.
Since his debut in 1984, Stern increased television ratings and contracts so that now, $930-million is divvied up between the NBA owners from the TV contracts. His stellar efforts also took the league’s annual salaries through the roof. While the league was initially offering an average of $250,000 per player, Stern managed to raise that number well into the millions. The average NBA contract is now approximately $5-million. When Stern took on the position, game attendance averaging less than 7,000 fans a night. Stern has more than doubled that number along with helping the league’s worldwide presence—the 2012 playoffs were broadcast in 215 countries.
It hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows for Stern, though. He’s overseen six franchise relocations, several lockouts, huge referee scandals, trade vetoes, and many other controversial and heavily publicized moments. Many recall the betting scandal with referee Tim Donaghy that went public in 2007, when Donaghy was accused of betting on games that he refereed in the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons. The FBI investigated his remote ties to organized crime, which ultimately resulted in a guilty plea and 15 months in jail along with three years supervised release. Stern made it very clear afterwards that he never wanted to see such despicable acts within the organization again.
Another “highlight” was in his first year on the job when he caused a ruckus with Michael Jordan—banning his very first pair of Nikes (Air Jordan I) for failure to meet on-court dress code. Nike was in an uproar as MJ was fined $5,000 dollars every time he wore the shoes on the court. In a move they would later come to appreciate much more, Nike paid out for all of Jordan’s fines.
Stern has been mentoring his successor, Adam Silver, to ensure the NBA remains in great shape and continues expanding its revenues. The two have worked together for 20 years. “I’m honoured, thrilled, and will do my absolute best to grow this league or try to do it the way David has done over the last 20 (sic) years. To the NBA family, I look forward to serving you,” stated Silver.
Stern’s stepping down has been met with an outpouring of respect from athletes and team owners. Farewell, Stern!