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Volume 26 No. 209
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NBA Owners, Other Sports Execs Reflect On David Stern's Impact

Many across the NBA community today are remembering late Commissioner DAVID STERN, with Bulls Chair JERRY REINSDORF saying he was "brilliant," and someone who "set the standard for commissioners." Reinsdorf: "We've lost a giant." Reinsdorf also said Stern was "smart to realize it's all about the players," adding he "helped them become very marketable." Reinsdorf: "I don't think anyone's ever bought a ticket to watch an owner" (NBCSPORTSCHICAGO.com, 1/1).

Meanwhile, others memorialized Stern:

  • MLSE Chair LARRY TANENBAUM said Stern "set the tone for the modern NBA: focused on excellence, driven to exceed expectations, socially conscious, and determined to have an impact on and off the court" (MLSE).

  • Celtics Managing Partner & CEO WYC GROUSBECK said Stern's "commitment to community service demonstrated how sports can have a positive social impact," and he "transformed how we think of sports" (Celtics).

  • Thunder Chair CLAY BENNETT said Stern "made the league." Bennett: "He built the league through his sheer will and skill and brilliance and force. Indescribable worker. Demanding. Really pushing. And always by example. Always in the room. We don't have the NBA we love and enjoy and its position for the future that we're all so excited about today, without David Stern" (OKLAHOMAN, 1/2).

  • T'Wolves Owner GLEN TAYLOR said Stern will always be known for his "ability to have ideas and then the force to implement them." Taylor added, "He was really caring about his staff and the people that he worked with. He really liked the basketball players, so he had, I don't know if you'd call it a soft side, but a very nice, human relationship side too that he didn't always display. But I knew it was there" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 1/2).

  • Basketball HOFer and Raptors Senior Basketball Advisor WAYNE EMBRY, who has been involved with the league in some capacity since his playing days began in '58, called Stern an "innovator." Embry: "He thought ahead. He thought big" (SPORTSNET.ca, 1/1).

  • Warriors President & COO RICK WELTS, who worked for the league under Stern, in a video tribute said he "used to joke" that the "greatest success in my life was directly reporting to David Stern for 17 years and living to tell about it, because it was some days an amazing challenge." Welts added he had a "complicated relationship" with Stern. But said, "At the end of the day, he was a friend, he was a mentor and his inspiration, creative genius, innovation, ingenuity, are the things that really created the NBA that we know today" (Warriors).

  • LEBRON JAMES said he believes Stern and DR. JAMES NAISMITH are "two of the most important people for the game," adding Stern "made the game global" (L.A. TIMES, 1/2).

  • WNBA Commissioner CATHY ENGELBERT: “The WNBA will be forever grateful for his exemplary leadership and vision that led to the founding of our league" (WNBA).

  • MLB Commissioner ROB MANFRED: "David Stern taught all of us in professional sports the importance of an enduring partnership with the players. He always bargained hard, but in the end he made deals that got the players and owners on the same page and allowed the sport to thrive. He never lost sight of the big picture and his vision helped make the NBA what it is today" (MLB).

  • NHL Commissioner GARY BETTMAN said Stern was a "man of great vision and energy who was responsible for the operational and business advancements that created the modern sports industry." Bettman: "David taught me how to be a commissioner and, more importantly, how to try to be a good person" (NHL).

  • MLS Commissioner DON GARBER: "David's impact extended beyond the NBA to all of professional sports. He redefined the role of the modern day sports Commissioner" (MLS).

  • NFL Commissioner ROGER GOODELL: "David was a driving force in sports for decades and helped the NBA soar to new heights around the world. I called him the dean of commissioners, not only for his longevity and his vision for the NBA, but for his willingness to offer advice when I first started as NFL commissioner" (NFL).

  • Former NFL Commissioner PAUL TAGLIABUE: "David was an outstanding leader who contributed enormously to the success of the modern NBA. ... He was a great friend and a terrific ally on important issues" (NFL).

  • ESPN President JIMMY PITARO called Stern a "brilliant leader whose vision was instrumental in creating the global success the NBA enjoys today" (ESPN).

  • Disney Chair & CEO BOB IGER tweeted Stern "left an indelible mark on the sports industry & helped turn the NBA into a global cultural force" (TWITTER.com, 1/1).