Is there a more divisive topic in sports right now than David Stern? Never thought I would say something like that, but it is true! Check the social media sphere and you will see two types of posts for Stern.
“Great man retiring, top franchises worth X 30 years ago, now every franchise worth at least X.”
“Stern was a blight on the NBA and hopefully Adam Silver didn’t learn too much from him.”
Stern has been the NBA commissioner since 1984 and has made MANY great business moves. Stern will probably not be remembered by the current 20-something generation for the amazing job he did making the NBA what it is today. This is the man that instated the salary cap system in the NBA to avoid turning into MLB style dominance by big market teams. In 2011, the revenue for the NBA is estimated to be $3.82 billion. A whole lot more than in 1984 for sure. He has certainly done his job as commissioner by increasing the value and exposure of the league.
But, can David Stern really take credit for all of these things happening? Would any other man in David Stern’s shoes have done anything less? The credit for the increase in value to the NBA can’t be put solely on David Stern’s shoulders. You have to think about the stars in the NBA when Stern took over in 1984. Larry “Legend” Bird, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Michael “Greatest of All Time” Jordan, just to name a few. Legends hardly do this list credit. Getting ANY exposure on national television for the NBA would have given them a huge uptick in revenue. The public needed to see these players play, and Stern allowed that to happen, but I’m not convinced it wouldn’t have happened one way or another. Not to mention the questionable decisions that didn’t involve the business side of the NBA. The switching to a micro-fiber ball, Tim Donaghy and, my personal favorite, the veto of last year’s trade involving Chris Paul, when he was a member of the LEAGUE OWNED New Orleans Hornets. (Who went on to have a terrible season, not as bad as Charlotte, and magically win the draft lottery.)
David Stern was without a doubt a great business man, marketing phenom and serviceable protector of the NBA name. He also might have alienated the fans many times with back room moves and terrible public decisions. David Stern will go down as a custodian to the league in a time of great growth. He will be remembered both as one of the greatest commissioners in modern sports AND one of the least popular commissioners in modern sports. That’s quite the accomplishment if you ask me.
Now…Mr. Adam Silver, show us what YOU can do.
-Colby Rogers (@FrontOfficeGuy)