SBD/October 29, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Stern: Surprised Retirement News Didn't Leak Earlier To Media

Stern does not think European expansion will happen "anytime soon"
NBA Commissioner David Stern said he was “surprised” the news of his February ’14 retirement did not leak to the media, according to Scott Cacciola of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Stern said, “I was stunned that after having the discussion in a room with the owners on Wednesday afternoon that it did not leak overnight.” But Stern said the move was “in line with a very strong request that I had made (to the owners).” When asked if he had “cooled on the idea of European expansion,” Stern said, “No, I was never heated on it. … Every year I say it'll be there in about 10 years. My problem now is that I've been saying that for 10 years.” He added, “Given the economies there, it's not going to happen anytime soon.” Stern: “But I do believe that the time will come when that will be an item of consideration by then-ownership of the NBA.” He continued: “In Latin America ... we've had some interest expressed for (an NBA Development League) team in Monterrey (Mexico), and for a team in other countries where it would partner with a local football club, which is what you Americans call soccer. That's the way that we talk about league expansion” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 10/27).

FRIENDS IN THE END? Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban said of Stern's retirement, "I anticipate saving a lot of money going forward. No, it won't be the same going forward without David. David has his stamp ... has left his imprint ingrained in everything about the NBA, so certainly there's going to be a transition.” Cuban said of Stern’s legacy: "It's one of a focus on growth and recognizing that the NBA is in the entertainment business and that it's a global product, not just a local product. Whatever platforms that took us to, he was ready to go. He wasn't protective at all. He was wide open. I think that was great." NBA Deputy Commissioner & COO Adam Silver has been named Stern’s successor. Cuban said, "Adam will do a great job. I think if things go the way we want, the biggest decision and hurdle will be what trophy we name after David. I nominate the Most Fined in a Season Award, but it probably won't be my decision” (ESPNDALLAS.com, 10/26).

LASTING LEGACY: In Boston, Gary Washburn wrote Stern “brought coolness and sophistication to the NBA.” It is undeniable that the league “developed into a professional sports juggernaut under his administration.” What Stern “initiated was marketing the league’s superstars.” His legacy as a “pioneer for the game is unquestioned, regardless of whether there was a ferocious businessman behind the affable smile” (BOSTON GLOBE, 10/28). In Indianapolis, Bob Kravitz wrote Stern “did an amazing thing during his tenure,” as he made a “black league palatable to white Americans.” The case “can be made, and should be made, that Stern was one of the greatest commissioners in the history of professional American sports.” Stern “recognized the power of TV and superstars.” In addition, the case could be made in recent years that he “became a little bit too powerful.” But he also has “made this league a far better one than the one he adopted back in 1984” (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 10/28). In California, Marcia Smith writes Stern “kept pace with change.” The mark he will leave on the NBA “will be as the Johnny Appleseed of the game” (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 10/29).

A CLOSER LOOK: In N.Y., Mitch Lawrence wrote, "If you want to get on Stern for the big stuff, as he heads into his final 15 months of service as commissioner, we can think of a few items" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/28). In Charlotte, Rick Bonnell wrote during Stern’s tenure the “curmudgeon began to outweigh the visionary.” Stern can “out-debate almost anyone,” but at some point he “decided cajoling and intimidating people was a better course than winning them over.” Stern has "always displayed" both leadership and vision “in abundance.” Bonnell: “I just wish he’d been better at treating people the way he’d expect to be treated” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 10/28). ESPN's Dan Le Batard said Stern was “condescending, he was smug, he was a bully, but he got a lot done in his career." Le Batard: "What I’ve been amazed by is if he had retired two years ago, maybe three years ago, we’d be singing glowing praises of David Stern" ("Dan Le Batard Is Highly Questionable," ESPN2, 10/26).

STERN WARNING: ESPN.com’s Scoop Jackson wrote Stern knew the time “was right, he knew to exit the game before the whispers of the greatest commissioner ever's continued decline got louder.” He had become the “equivalent of a genius on the verge of madness.” But the one thing Stern “will remind us before he leaves is how you can't be half a gangster and expect the world to rightfully kiss your ring when you say goodbye” (ESPN.com, 10/26).
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