HoopsHype David Stern rumors

January 28, 2014 Updates

Tatum, who is African-American, would become one of the highest-ranking minority executives in major professional sports. Silver had been the NBA's deputy commissioner, and has targeted Tatum to take over his No. 2 position in the league office, sources said. Yahoo! Sports

A distant third behind the NFL and baseball through the 1980s, the NBA is now a behemoth. With the owners slicing the players’ 58-42 share of revenue to 50-50 in the 2011 collective bargaining agreement, profits and franchise values are ramping up. In an eye-popping bequest to his successor, Adam Silver’s first major piece of business will be to negotiate new network TV deals amid projections that rights fees could double from the current $930 million a season. Forbes.com

The 2011 labor talks were a masterpiece for Stern, despite the fact he was no longer the absolute ruler he had been for 20 years, when Bulls/White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, a force behind the scenes in baseball, didn’t attend NBA meetings, saying everything was already decided. Two sources in the room described an exchange between Stern and the Clippers' Donald Sterling at an owners meeting in Las Vegas in the run-up to the lockout. Pressed by Stern for his opinion, Sterling demurred, then blurted, “I would fire you. You're great at marketing but you're not tough enough with the union.” Forbes.com

...There was real pressure from new breed owners like Dallas’ Mark Cuban and an insurgent small market coalition. Stern adeptly made their draconian demands his and delivered, staying well away from a January drop-dead date by sheer sleight of hand. With the players looking at seven weeks of lost paychecks, counting start-up time, Stern offered to make three of them up if they settled in time to start on Christmas. They did. Forbes.com

With the economy struggling and ad budgets slashed in 2001, the NBA was in the wrong place at the wrong time when talks began for a post-MJ TV deal. NBC’s Bob Ebersol, who had walked away from the NFL four years before, offered a 33% cut from $1.8 billion to $1.2 billion--going that high only because Stern had invited the Walt Disney Co. into the process. Noting Disney's losses from televising NFL games at sky-high rates, media analyst Brian Schecter told the New York Times, “If David Stern pulls this out of his hat, he's a true magician of TV rights negotiations.” Stern pulled a six-year deal averaging $767 million out of his hat--with Disney paying $485 million of it, 50% more than NBC offered--taking the bulk of his package to (gasp) cable with ABC airing fewer games and only two rounds of the playoffs and the rest on ESPN and Turner. Daring as it seemed at the time ("Cable is said to muscle out NBC for NBA rights," said the New York Times headline), it carried the league to the brink of a better day. Forbes.com

January 27, 2014 Updates

"He really looked for people who had the same genuine love for the sport that he had," said Rick Welts, who worked for the NBA for 17 years as an executive, ultimately becoming Chief Marketing Officer and president of NBA Properties before taking jobs as president of the Phoenix Suns and, then, the Golden State Warriors. It makes a difference. He wasn't interested in people who were really talented people unless they had that emotional investment in the game. Because he does." NBA.com

Stern turns over the multibillion-dollar operation to his successor, deputy commissioner Adam Silver, on Feb. 1. Stern has been calling owners over the past week and telling them he will remain out of sight, that Silver is the guy to call, and he wants Silver to have his space as the new commissioner starts the job. "David Stern is the No. 1 force, the No. 1 reason why this league is where it is today," Miami Heat President Pat Riley said. "That's not disrespectful to any one great player in any one era or any owner. This has to do with the leadership of one man. "Over that span of time, things don't change because they're coincidences. They don't. There's somebody at the top who is going to eliminate what is bad and market what is good. He was a very forceful, very pragmatic visionary." USA Today Sports

January 26, 2014 Updates

“I went back, and I was going to start taking classes, but my agent told me to hold out just in case something happened. Now, also, I had a lawsuit against the Mavericks and against—which people really don’t know about—against the NBA. Because David Stern came in and said, ‘You’ve got to stop paying these rookies these long-term and high-priced deals.’ Well, that’s collusion, and you can’t do that. You can’t tell an owner what to do. We got wind of it, got the players’ association and said, ‘Here’s what’s happened.’ So finally, the Mavericks came in and signed me. You know, they’re hugging and kissing and ‘hey, we’re so glad,’ but it was because of the lawsuit. Because they would have to pay me double what a Cleveland offer would be, so they came in and paid me everything for 28 games, and that’s the reason why, so there’s always an underlying story to what it is. It wasn’t as simple as two sides coming together. The lawsuit kind of trumped everything.” Dallas Morning News

January 23, 2014 Updates

The NBA this year expects $5.5 billion in annual revenue, and one of the league’s small-market teams, the sold for more than $500 million. “When I got into the league, our central revenues outside of ticket sales were less than $1 million,” said Chicago Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, who bought the Bulls in 1985 for $16 million. “David took basketball from a sport that had its Finals on tape-delay television to a worldwide sport. There was no marketing when I got into the league. He was determined to bring what was a second-class sport into a world-class sport. You have to give him the majority share of the credit.” Sports Business Daily

“David had to, and was able to, deal with the complexities of antitrust laws, labor laws, media rights, being the first league to have a drug agreement, and of marketing a sport with a brand that at the time he came on was perceived as being difficult to take to mainstream America,” said Bettman, who before joining the NHL spent 12 years working with Stern at the NBA. “He helped create a licensed product business before there was much of one. He brought all that together and he was the first to do that whole package. So I would say that David is the whole package and that is what a commissioner in this time had to become, particularly in this era of expansion internationally and onto digital media platforms — both of which didn’t even exist when he came in.” Sports Business Daily

Owners meetings may have been meant for debate and discussion, but much of the decision making was left to Stern. “I went to every board meeting for five years and it was just amazing to me,” said Pat Croce, former co-owner of the Philadelphia 76ers. “We’d get the agenda, but whatever David wanted to get done, got done. He really cares about fans, too, and will get really radical with owners when he thinks the fans are getting shafted.” Sports Business Daily

Stern was one of the first commissioners to migrate the NBA to cable television while advancing opportunities in the field of digital media. He created NBA.com in 1995, the first league to integrate both team and league websites. The NBA then launched NBA TV in 1999 (then called NBA.com TV), and the league has long embraced various social media channels to drive its brand. “It was David’s vision and his smart, forward thinking that really put Turner on the map,” said David Levy, president of Turner Sports. “He was the only commissioner at the time to look at cable and Turner/ESPN as an option. He put his crown jewels on cable well before any of the other top leagues. He trusted us with the postseason. He trusted us with the All-Star Game. He trusted us with his brand at NBA TV and NBA Digital. These moves were both risky and visionary at the same time.” Sports Business Daily

January 17, 2014 Updates

Premier League chief Richard Scudamore, the best remunerated administrator in English football, is ‘vastly underpaid’ according to the overlord of American basketball. NBA commissioner David Stern, who retires next month after a remarkable 30 years at the helm, has enjoyed an annual salary of around £15million compared to the £2.5m a year including bonuses that Scudamore receives for running football’s richest league. Daily Mail

January 16, 2014 Updates

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is at high risk to be fined by the league before the month is out. So says Mark Cuban. In an interview with ESPN.com this week to reflect on David Stern's 30-year run as NBA commissioner, which ends Feb. 1, Cuban said he has been telling Stern for months that he is determined to get dinged one last time before his longtime foil leaves his post. "We talk about it all the time," Cuban said. "I'm going to have one final fine before he leaves." ESPN.com

Yet Cuban has mostly praise for Stern with slightly more than two weeks to go before Stern's longtime deputy Adam Silver takes over and the longest tenure of any commissioner in North American professional team sports comes to an end. "One reason that I truly respect David is that he followed the rules," Cuban said. "He didn't want to be king. He wanted to be successful and make the NBA successful. He was less concerned with his legacy than with creating results for the NBA. He knows that the results will stand the test of time and define his legacy." ESPN.com

Any rumor missing? E-mail us at   hoopshype@hoopshype.com.