Basketball Mourns Loss Of A Monumental Figure With Passing Of Former Commissioner David Stern

Back in the early 1980s, the NBA was a crumbling wreck So poorly was it regarded that its finals weren’t even televised live. Franchises were in dire financial situations....

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Back in the early 1980s, the NBA was a crumbling wreck

So poorly was it regarded that its finals weren’t even televised live. Franchises were in dire financial situations.

And then along came David Stern as commissioner.

Stern, who died Wednesday at the age of 77, saved the league and pointed it squarely toward a profitable future of expansion and worldwide exposure.

Stern worked with or in the NBA from 1966 until he became commissioner in 1984 and through his 2014 retirement. The league still billed him as Commissioner Emeritus. The native New Yorker graduated from Rutgers University and earned his law degree at Columbia University.

Success came on a bumpy expressway – the NBA locked the players out four times in hardball labor negotiations – but the sport proved resilient and grew as it marketed its superstars and partnered with Nike. The NBA and its players became global icons and raised the game’s profile.

Under Stern’s auspices, the NBA also created the Women’s NBA and the D-League (developmental league).

The NBA was the first league to play regular-season games overseas and began to make massive strides in China when Yao Ming joined the Houston Rockets. NBA players began to play in the Olympics on Stern’s watch and the 1992 Dream Team, with Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley and other supernovas, won the gold medal. Standouts from around the world migrated to play in the NBA.

Stern was hospitalized in December after suffering a brain hemorrhage. The NBA announced his death on New Year’s Day.

“The league wouldn’t be what it is without you,” Rockets star James Harden wrote on Twitter. “The entire NBA family and fans around the world will miss you.”

 
 
Post By: Larry Weisman, a longtime sportswriter for USA TODAY, blogs for Twistity.com. Follow him on Twitter @MrLarryWeisman

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