All good things must come to an end. Hell, every damn thing comes to end no matter how good or bad. So it’s only fitting that the announcement of David Stern’s eminent retirement in 2014 evokes mixed reactions.
On the one hand Stern is perhaps the most important figure in the history of modern hoops. No commissioner can claim to have made their league as profitable and popular during their tenure as Stern. When he took the helm of the NBA ship Stern was trying to sell a product that ran its championship series on tape delay. Now there isn’t a single city in this country that wouldn’t love to have an NBA franchise.
On the other hand Stern has ruled with an iron first and has made many decisions in a vacuum that have been wildly inconsistent with what a true commissioner should be concerned with. Issues such as a dress code or unilaterally choosing to change the very ball the players use every night. Albeit we’re not talking any kind of Bountygate scandal or steroids…well…not counting that whole Tim Donahgy thingy at least.
Then there is the beef every Lakers fan has with Stern as it relates to the Chris Paul debacle that kicked off the lockout shortened season.
Safe to say we could spend the rest of the month arguing the good and bad of Stern’s tenure. So let’s instead just choose to see the good he did. Before Stern pro hoops was an absolute afterthought in this great country. Today the NBA stands behind perhaps only the NFL in terms of popularity and global exposure.
We can talk about all the bad but it’s impossible to ignore all the good. To paraphrase Don King, “If David Stern didn’t exist you’d have to invent him”. There will never be another Golden Era like the one Stern presided over in the late 80’s so folks such as myself are happy to have lived it. That alone cements his legacy.