NBA Commissioner Stern to Retire in February 2014


The 2012-13 NBA season will be the last full season for NBA commissioner David Stern.

Stern will retire as commissioner on February 1, 2014, it was announced at an NBA Board of Governors meeting on Thursday. He will be replaced by deputy commissioner Adam Silver.

By far the highest-profile commissioner in sports, Stern replaced Larry O’Brien as NBA commissioner on February 1, 1984 after having various roles with the league for the previous eighteen years. His first decade as commissioner was marked by unprecedented success for the NBA.

Bolstered by stars Earvin Johnson, Larry Bird and Michael Jordan, the league’s popularity dramatically increased during the 1980s and early 1990s.

Over the past two decades, however, Stern’s tenure has been marked by almost continuous controversy. Four times in seventeen years (1995, 1996, 1998-99 and 2011), Stern and NBA owners have locked out the players in collective bargaining negotiations, resulting in two shortened seasons (1998-99 and 2011-12).

NBA players were tarred and feathered as thugs and criminals thanks to high-profile off-court incidents, including Latrell Sprewell choking his coach in 1997, Kobe Bryant being accused of sexual assault in 2003, and Ron Artest sparking a player-fan brawl with Pistons fans in 2004.

Further embarrassing the league was the 2007 arrest of referee Tim Donaghy, who gambled on games that he officiated. The Donaghy scandal added fuel to claims that the league — and Stern, specifically — manipulated the results of playoff series for the benefit of TV partners.

Such accusations are baseless and frankly moronic. Yet they persist thanks to fans, local broadcasters, players, coaches, and owners who complain about almost every call and view any defeat as having been personally ordered by the commissioner.

Beyond the big issues — collective bargaining, player image woes, perceptions of impropriety — there were the small-scale controversies. The new ball, the dress code, the Chris Paul trade, the myriad maelstroms that have surrounded the league in recent years.

Needless to say, the issues have taken a toll on Stern’s image.

Stern will be the first professional sports commissioner to step down since NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue in 2006.

‘Commissioner-elect’ Silver will not exactly ease into his new position. Within three years of Silver’s tenure, the NBA will negotiate a new national television deal effective for the 2016-17 season, and either the NBA or NBPA will more than likely opt-out of the current collective bargaining agreement in 2017.

(Thursday’s news from

  • Andrea Cavalli

    To me, controversies aside (the entire sports world is filled with controversies at every level these days anyway, many of those are fueled by the proliferation of social media sites, 24/7 cycle news etc) he’s been, for all his flows, the best commissioner in sports. He helped turn a second-tier league, whose Finals games were shown on tape-delay, in one of the biggest and most popular sports leagues in the world, certainly the biggest of all the major U.S. leagues when it comes to international popularity (and I know this for a fact since I’m from Europe). I can also attest that many sports executives over here in Europe, ranging from soccer to basketball to other sports, often ask him for advice on several issues. This never happens with other U.S. sports commissioners. So yeah, he was far from perfect, especially in the past few years, but it shows he was really respected by his colleagues, also from other sports, all over the world.

    I give him a solid B+ as commish.

  • James Relt

    Will David Stern be remembered as the best commissioner in the history of sports?

  • Troy Jerney

    who is this Adam Silver and what are his credentials to run the NBA in place of David Stern?

    • Andrea Cavalli

       Well, Silver has been in the NBA since decades and he’s been deputy commissioner since the 2006-07 season, not to mention he was front and center during the past lockout..

  • RobjFitzgerald

    2 part question, is Stern really being forced or leaving on his own? What is his salary I’ve heard reports it over $30 million a year?

    • Paulsen

       He’s leaving on his own. Not sure about his salary. It’s been rumored to be about $20 mil/year.

  • JakeFrankie

    Of course his timing was great for his career. NBA boom started in 1984 really, Also Stern took the NBA from a “Drug League” culture of the 1970’s to one of the most popular sports in the world. Basketball is the second most popular sport in America, It’s probably the second most popular sport in the world behind Soccer. NBA does a great job of promoting there stars, NBA promotes there stars as good if not better than any league. Of Course Stern didn’t do it alone, plenty of help. But he’s the best Commish, Every Commish deals with bad stuff. Anything that happened that was so “bad” NBA overcame it. The NBA popularity is only going to grow, NBA audience is so young most younger than Baseball too. There’s a lot of good stuff and bad stuff you can bring up about Stern. But in my eyes he did a damn good job.

  • Matt Juarez

    Do you feel Stern more integral in the success of the NBA, or was it more  Bird/Magic, Jordan, or a combination? -thanks

    • Paulsen

      I would say it was a combination. But Stern gets perhaps too much credit for the success the league had in the 1980s and 1990s.