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David Stern Deserves Credit For Making NBA Successful


I remember watching Magic Johnson lead the Los Angeles Lakers to the NBA title in a series-clinching victory in 1980 over the Philadelphia 76ers and Julius Erving. It was Johnson’s rookie season and it was sheer Magic. The problem was that the clinching game was on tape-delay on CBS, instead of being televised live.

Before David Stern took over as NBA commissioner, not many people cared about professional basketball. It was very evident this was the case when CBS would only show championship games that were on the weekend in live prime-time coverage. Otherwise, the week-day playoff  games aired by tape-delay, starting at 11:30 p.m.

Before David Stern took over, more people care about NCAA basketball than the NBA. It was the National Boring Association.

Of course, more than 30 years later, the game draws far more interest on TV, it’s a valuable TV property for CBS and TNT and d Stern can take credit for that.

Not all the credit, however, since most NBA experts would rather give praise to Larry Byrd, Magic Johnson and the other superstars that helped the sport return to its glory days. Still, Stern and his staff put the correct marketing plan together, and the NBA returned to the glory days that had not been there since Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain.

Stern also held the line and kept the NBA’s reputation in tact, for the most part. His ability to salvage the 2011-12 season was no small task.

One could argue that David Stern is not only the best commissioner the NBA has ever had but also the second best commissioner of any sports league, second only to the NFL’s Pete Rozelle.

But there’s one easy statement to say about David Stern:

He leaves the league in much better shape than when he took it over.