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Volume 26 No. 209
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How David Stern Turned The NBA Into The Global Game

The NBA is planning to honor the late DAVID STERN with "commemorative black bands on all jerseys for the remainder of the season," according to Jack Maloney of CBSSPORTS.com. Referees "will also have black bands on their uniforms as well." It "won't be possible to replace Stern, but honoring him in this way helps keep his memory alive, and will be a reminder of his impact each and every night" (CBSSPORTS.com, 1/2).

LOSS OF AN ICON: USA TODAY's Jeff Zillgitt takes a look at the five ways Stern helped shape the NBA, including viewership growth, global vision, player marketing, social responsibility and "handing the keys" to current Commissioner ADAM SILVER. Through "hard-nosed negotiating, brilliant marketing and attention to detail," Stern, who led the league for 30 years beginning in '84, "crafted a legacy as one of the best commissioners ever" (USA TODAY, 1/3). In N.Y., Marc Stein notes Stern was a "workaholic, a perfectionist and, yes, often a bully." He "wanted anyone who had anything to do with the NBA to care as deeply as he did" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/3). In Boston, Bob Ryan writes Stern fell "under the umbrella of those people who take their jobs, but not themselves, seriously." Ryan: "I am here to mourn the loss of a clever, witty, and charming man who always showed respect and appreciation for the work we do" (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/3).

BEYOND BASKETBALL: ESPN.com's Mechelle Voepel noted by launching the WNBA in '97, Stern "dramatically impacted women's sports." Launching a women's league was "something no other commissioner in one of the major North American men's professional sports leagues has done" (ESPN.com, 1/2). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Jason Gay notes Stern "did not shy away from uncomfortable discussions of race or justice," and in doing so, he "kept the league human." Stern thought standing up for societal issues was the "right" thing to do, but he also "believed it was good business" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 1/3). In Philadelphia, Tom Haberstroh wrote, "Instead of closing doors and insulating himself in Manhattan, Stern opened them." Stern "fashioned the NBA as its own New York City, attracting people and businesses from all corners of the world." Under his stewardship, the NBA "became America’s global game." It takes a "strong, but delicate hand to pull off that kind of change and growth, both things Stern had in spades" (NBCSPORTSPHILADELPHIA.com, 1/2).

LASTING IMPACT: Bill Simmons said Stern is someone who has "been in our lives pretty much the entire time we’ve liked the NBA." Simmons: "He was really the Dad of the NBA. … He had such a powerful impact on people who passed through his circle. He’s one of those rare guys that -- the first time you met him -- you indelibly remember." Simmons noted his first meeting with Stern was for an ESPN The Magazine story in '06. Simmons: "I remember everything about that day. It was a really big day for me. … He remembered every single thing that happened in the NBA basically dating back to the late 60’s. He was this resource, this encyclopedia, for every relevant thing that happened after BILL RUSSELL basically. ... His fingers are just everywhere for sixty years. … I don’t know who the person is now. This was the last link. … We’re losing something.” Simmons also noted Stern's influence "eroded over the course of the last decade," as a "new wave" of owners came in. Simmons: "These new owners are like, ‘why the f--- am I listening to this guy? I might be smarter than this guy.’ … There was a real power balance I thought swinging back and forth those last five years that he was there. … They all started gravitating toward Adam. Adam was younger. Adam understood their world better, he just got it. Stern was the more the ‘well back in my day this was how we did it.' ...  I hate saying it, but I thought he stayed too long" ("The Bill Simmons Podcast," 1/2).

LESSONS LEARNED: THE HOCKEY NEWS' Ken Campbell wrote, "Without David Stern, there is probably no GARY BETTMAN running the NHL for the past 27 years." Almost "every fingerprint Bettman has had on the league and the game, from his approach to collective bargaining to his ability to generate revenues, emerged from the lessons he learned from Stern" (THEHOCKEYNEWS.com, 1/2).