David Stern passed away but his legacy will live forever. He managed to get the league from where it was to where it now is. And it was a 30-year remarkable journey. The league was not in a good place when it first started, even Magic & Bird’s arrival to the league was not enough. There was a lot of work to get the league off the ground. Games were tape-delayed, Stern came and changed it forever.
He was a towering figure. He made everybody feel comfortable when they’re talking to him. But same time, he always knew that he had the last word, a true decision-maker.
When Stern took over the league, playoff games were tape-delayed. NBA Finals games were tape-delayed. You should search 1981 Finals between Celtics and Rockets on YouTube. Now the NBA is an 8 billion dollar business. The average franchise values are expected to be over 2 billion dollars this year. Players are making more than 40 million dollars a year in salaries.
NBA in the late 70s and early 80s had drug problems. Players were using drugs. Teams were near bankruptcy. After Stern’s NBA, the league became a popular culture item. Magic and Bird meeting in Finals was something else. Jordan’s arrival was something else.
Social media was not being around at that time. But Slam Dunk Contests in NBA All-Star Saturdays were something else. They were like pay per view events. In 1992, he said it’s O.K. for NBA players to compete in the Olympics and Dream Team happened. 12 greatest basketball players for the first time in Olympic arena. It changed the sports world forever.
From being near to bankruptcy to a global brand, David Stern changed the NBA forever.