Basketball’s Most Powerful Man Writes His Own Ending; The Best Recruit Since LeBron Is Ready For College Now

By: 10.26.12
David Stern

David Stern

By the time David Stern retires as commissioner of the NBA on Feb. 1, 2014, the dueling eulogies and celebrations of his reign will have long been written. Hell, still 15 months away, many have been written today after he announced he’ll retire on that date while at the NBA Board of Governors meeting. Yeah, there was other news, too, such as the sale of the Grizzlies from Michael Heisley to 34-year-old Robert Pera, not to mention the delay on making any decisions about uniforms getting advertising. The Pera deal still needs to clear some hurdles with Heisley, but NBA approval is huge. Advertising on uniforms has little gray area between those who love its revenue appeal and those who hate the sort of NASCAR-ization the NBA would sort-of become. But Stern was the main event. He passed the torch to preordained deputy commissioner Adam Silver as his successor, a guy who many probably only know as the guy who reads the second-round picks at the NBA Draft and generally gets cheered instead of being booed by Stern. And that’s a segue into why Stern, like those simple patches stuck onto a patch of sweat-wicking uniform, will be remembered as so divisive. Every commissioner has the thankless job of trying to please every fanbase. For Knicks fans, Stern was the guy who delivered Patrick Ewing (and those against will say he engineered a rigged draft). He let fans in Oklahoma City and Memphis enjoy playoff basketball with his OK to move teams there, but he’ll be somewhat vilified in Seattle until a new team arrives (will that be his parting gift as commish?). We have a theory why he will be remembered this way: He was maybe a little too ready and capable to play the foil. Remember last year at the NBA Draft when he put his hand to his ear, egging on those booing him? That’s basically the perfect analogy for why there won’t be any gray area about his 30-year tenure, to the exact day, as commissioner. Even though he was blessed with the Magic, Larry and Michael era of hoops right out of the gate, he did amazing things for the game, like getting the freaking Finals off tape delay. Thirty years ago you couldn’t have watched Doctor J go for a title live in some areas. Now we’re upset if our League Pass starts buffering — so yeah, the NBA has come a long way, and its revenues have skyrocketed 24 times what it was when he came in. Still, you sense that he was just a little too ready to stir up discussion, such as when he put last year’s NBA season, already seemingly on its deathbed, in ominous territory when he said it was going into “nuclear winter” and saying that he was “proud” of the owners for sticking to their revenue-sharing principles and keeping players and staff members out of work for an extra couple months. So which David Stern will you remember? It’s a lot of both. Welcome to the job, Silver, you have your work cut out for you. … Hit the jump to read about a Lakers team still without a win …

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