David Stern, who was an NBA commissioner for 30 years died at the age of 77 on New Year’s Day. According to CNBC New York, he had a brain hemorrhage on December 12th and was in the hospital since. Stern was a pioneer for the game of basketball, his legacy will forever be remembered, and his impact stretched worldwide.
David Stern, a Pioneer for NBA Basketball
David Stern was known as a tough commissioner. When he became NBA Commissioner in 1984, the NBA was in a completely different situation than in 2020.
According to David DuPree of The Washington Post, the NBA’s average salary in 1983 was $246,000 totaling $2,952,000 per team on average. Today, a salary of an average NBA player can easily go above $2 million per day.
However, more alarmingly the NBA was in dire straits.
“It has been learned that only seven of the league’s 23 teams made money last season. And the NBA admits to losses of between $15 and $20 million, with comparable losses anticipated this season,” DuPree said in 1983.
This is the NBA that David Stern inherited a year later in 1984. At that time, it was a different world. Television was just catching on, the internet was not mainstream, and social media did not exist in the 1980s.
It is hard to talk about everything David Stern did for the NBA as there are so many topics to cover.
The Legacy of David Stern
Charlotte lost the Hornets to New Orleans a few years before the Bobcats were born. Since the New Orleans Hornets changed their name to the New Orleans Pelicans, the Charlotte Bobcats changed their name to the Charlotte Hornets. By doing this they have retained the history of the first reincarnation of the Charlotte Hornets.
The only other NBA expansion franchise that David Stern oversaw during relocation was the Vancouver Grizzlies, who moved to Memphis to become the Memphis Grizzlies in 2001.
The other five NBA expansion cities were born under David Stern’s leadership and are thriving in today’s NBA.
This includes the Miami Heat and Toronto Raptors, who have won NBA Championships. Also, the Orlando Magic have won two Eastern Conference titles and made it to the NBA Finals twice.
Financial Impact on the NBA
“He launched groundbreaking media and marketing partnerships, digital assets and social responsibility programs that have brought the game to billions of people around the world. Because of David, the NBA is a truly global brand — making him not only one of the greatest sports commissioners of all time but also one of the most influential business leaders of his generation. Every member of the NBA family is the beneficiary of David’s vision, generosity, and inspiration,” said Adam Silver, NBA Commissioner.
“During his 30-year tenure from 1984 to 2014, he took the NBA from a 23-team organization struggling to make a profit to a 30-team operation whose revenue increased by 30 times to a reported $5 billion,” said Marty Steinberg and Jabari Young from CNBC.
David Stern did a lot for NBA Basketball and has changed the public perception of the NBA. Many younger NBA fans may not remember what the NBA was like in the 1980s. However, it is because of David Stern that everyone benefits from the new NBA.
Additionally, David Stern is responsible for adding the entire WNBA and starting the NBA G-League.
Legacy as NBA Commissioner
According to Garrett Parker of Money Inc, the NBA is the fourth richest league in the world. The only leagues with more revenue are the Barclays Premier League, the National Football League, and Major League Baseball.
While 100 percent of the credit should not all go to David Stern, he did play a pivotal role in making what the NBA is today.
Condolences must be given to David Stern’s family, friends, and colleagues at this difficult time.
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