“There wasn’t much gray area,” Williams said. “I didn’t see him as an iron fist. It was a guy that was like, ‘This is how we’re going to get it done. If you just trust me it will work out.’ That’s how I saw it. … He built the NBA. What else can you say? He literally built the NBA.”
LeBron James eulogized David Stern for his global vision and shrewd negotiating tactics. But with Stern passing away on Wednesday at age 77, the Lakers star suggested another way to honor the late NBA Commissioner. “He definitely should have something named after him,” James said following the Lakers’ 117-107 win over the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday. “Either if it’s an award, or, I don’t know, a day? During the course of an NBA season, there’s a ‘David Stern Day.’ I don’t know. We can figure it out.”
One of the many things Stern accomplished before leaving the NBA in 2014 was getting an iconic player — Michael Jordan — into ownership control of a team. The then-Charlotte Bobcats were losing value by tens of millions when Bob Johnson sold control to Jordan in 2010. Jordan appreciated Stern’s style of leadership. “Without David Stern, the NBA would not be what it is today,” Jordan said Wednesday in a statement released by the Hornets. “He guided the league through turbulent times and grew the league into an international phenomenon, creating opportunities that few could have imagined before ... “I wouldn’t be where I am without him.”
Williams recalled a meeting in 2014 when Stern talked openly about where the NBA was when he started. “We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Commissioner Stern running tapes from games to CBS back in the day because we were in tape delay,” Williams said. “And getting companies to buy in to the NBA because they wouldn’t even sponsor black athletes on TV. People have no idea what he did for the game and African-Americans in general.”
As her late father and former Lakers owner Jerry Buss groomed her to have a larger role with the franchise, he counseled Jeanie on how to ease that transition. At some point during those conversations, Jerry Buss offered advice that involved former NBA Commissioner David Stern. “My dad told me that if I ever needed help in the future that David would be somebody I could count on,” Jeanie Buss told USA TODAY Sports. “He always was there for me.”
“He stood up when everybody else didn’t know what to do,” Buss said of Stern. “We were all scared, concerned and uninformed because it was all happening in real time. But he didn’t flinch. He stood up and allowed Magic to come back into the league. He squashed the fears of spreading the virus through hugging and shaking hands, He really led us into an area that nobody really knew we were going. But he never blinked an eye. He stayed as a leader.”
So Jerry, how did this hit you? And how do you think you’ll look back on the part he played in building the NBA? Jerry West: He led this league through some turbulent times, and had a great idea about how the league should be in terms of players’ responsibilities to the public — his ability to work with the players (and) The Players Association was pretty remarkable when the league was not (succeeding). He had an incredible 30-year career in the NBA. I had a great relationship with him. We didn’t always agree on things. … I would call him from time to time and (share) things I saw that maybe needed to be addressed. And he was very courteous about listening to them, even if he may not believe what you were saying. But he was a great leader for a lot of years. And some of the things that you see in the NBA today, obviously, is part of his thought process, and the ability to get owners to acquiesce to what he thought was important for the growth of this league.
I’ll leave you with this, Jerry. If you had one word to describe his impact on the league, what would it be? Jerry West: Well, there’s probably — leadership, in a time of need. His unique leadership in a time of need, when this league was really undergoing a lot of stuff that wasn’t always privy to the newspaper. The drugs, the declining attendance, every bit of turmoil that this league has had was under his leadership, every bit of it. And he handled that so beautifully, I can’t tell you. He was strong-willed, and his leadership through those times got this league back up and running at the highest level that we had ever seen it.
Dave McMenamin: The NBA's MVP award is named after one former commish. The title trophy is named after another. What about David Stern? LeBron James: "Either if it’s an award, or, I don’t know, a day? During the course of an NBA season, there’s David Stern Day? .. We can figure it out"
Kyle Goon: LeBron compared David Stern's basketball stature to James Naismith -- a "visionary" who "made the game global". "We had our battles, that's for sure, trying to figure it out. But at the end of day we wanted to do whatever it takes to help grow the game."
Jeremy Lin: RIP David Stern. Condolences to your family. Thanks for pouring so much into making the NBA an amazing league that I could play in for 9 years as well as growing the beautiful game of basketball to the world!
Stern screamed and cursed and pounded boardroom tables, treating the commissioner's seat like an emperor's throne. It's hard to imagine Stern at rest, but he has died at 77. The former commissioner suffered a brain hemorrhage on Dec. 12 and was in critical condition until his death on New Year's Day. For most of his life, Stern kept coming and coming and coming. Privately, owners talked tough about how Stern worked for them. In his presence, many of them cowered. At once, owners, management and players were grateful to Stern for franchise valuations and salaries growing exponentially -- and fearful that failing to submit to his will could result in legitimate retribution, including unfavorable referee assignments in the playoffs.
In every elevator shaft, every room, Stern was a force of nature. For all the volatility and blunt force, there was an incredibly progressive, generous and compassionate side to Stern. The NBA played a leading role in HIV and AIDS awareness. Stern refused to let the league become overrun with irrational fears in the wake of Magic Johnson's diagnosis in 1991. Minorities and women were elevated into prominent positions in larger numbers and greater frequency than in other professional leagues. There are stories of NBA employees with family crises that credit Stern with remarkable acts of kindness and generosity. In his pre-NBA days as an attorney, Stern took on and won a massive housing discrimination case for African Americans in Northern New Jersey, and did so pro bono.
The past really is a foreign country, as L.P. Hartley once wrote, and David was one of its best correspondents. In retirement, he had the biggest backlog of the history I cared about, both recent and ancient. He could regale me with tales of how New York Knicks centers continually came up short against Bill Russell, and clue me in to how recent CBA fights shaped the modern salary cap. It started when I reached out for a story, roughly two years ago. I said in my email that he could call me at any hour, not expecting a response. One day, I checked my phone and saw I had a message. An annoyed-sounding voice said, “Hi Ethan, this is David Stern, calling you, at any hour. But this is obviously not a good hour.”
Really, the stakes for a fight were never too small. In our last conversation, I used the word “solipsistic” to describe the worldview of celebrities in a social media era. He expressed doubt that I was using the word correctly. I fought back, taking his momentary silence as a victory. “Ah ha! I finally got one on you!” I triumphantly crowed. Five minutes later, I was talking about something totally different, when Stern interrupted, blurting, “THE VIEW OR THEORY THAT THE SELF IS U-ALL THAT CAN BE KNOWN TO EXIST??” “Ach,” he said with another sigh. “That’s hardly what you were saying. Hardly.” I had to meet him halfway and say another word might have been slightly better, just so we could finally move on.
The response from those in hockey was positive. They certainly didn’t close any doors on the idea and, 17 years later, Las Vegas received its expansion team. Things were entirely different down the street. “(Stern) looked at me and said, ‘Over my dead body will Las Vegas ever get a team with legalized sports betting there,’ ” Goodman recalled Wednesday. “He was a curmudgeon. He was brilliant. He was a very, very nice man. Over the years, I became the little dog nipping at his ankles about Las Vegas. Wherever he went, I went. I imposed myself on him. “I told him all the time he was wrong about Las Vegas. He was always very nice in the way he said, ‘No.’ We disagreed in the beginning but became good friends. He was a decent person. I really liked the guy.”
Brad Townsend: Statement on David Stern’s passing from Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle on behalf of the NBA Coaches Association, of which he is president.
Brian Mahoney: Applause for David Stern after a pregame moment of silence here at MSG. And then loud applause for Carmelo Anthony as the last Blazer introduced.
Larry Bird: "My family and I send our sincere condolences to David Stern’s family. There are no words that can really describe the far-reaching impact of Commissioner Stern's brilliance, vision, fairness and hard work over so many years. When you think of all that he accomplished worldwide on behalf of thousands of players, so many fans, all of the jobs he created for team and arena employees and all of the people that benefitted from the many layers of growth in the sport and industry that David spearheaded and then passed on to others, there is no doubt Commissioner Stern lifted the NBA to new heights and he will be greatly missed by all of us."
Stephen Curry: Will never forget the words you spoke this day! "With the 7th pick" changed my life forever. Thank you and your family for your leadership and commitment to growing the game of basketball around the World. Forever grateful. RIP Commisoner Stern!
Liz Mullen: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell: "All of us at the National Football League are deeply saddened by the passing of David Stern. David was a driving force in sports for decades and helped the NBA soar to new heights around the world." Full Statement:
Jared Weiss: Statement from Celtics on passing of David Stern: "David was a towering figure whose accomplishments in building the NBA will never be forgotten. His leadership brought the game of basketball to people all over the world and helped change what the NBA could mean to people..."
Christian Clark: Pelicans call David Stern a "catalyst in professional basketball returning to New Orleans in 2002" in a statement on his passing. "His commitment...was further shown when he guided the franchise through an ownership transition to Tom Benson in 2012."
Tim Reynolds: Masai Ujiri of the Toronto Raptors on the death of David Stern: "He is a great, global giant in sports. We are proud of what he did, and his death pains us."
James Harden: The league wouldn’t be what it is today without you. The entire NBA family and fans around the world will miss you. 💔 #2009Draftday RIP David Stern🙏🏾
Michael Jordan: “Without David Stern, the NBA would not be what it is today. He guided the league through turbulent times and grew the league into an international phenomenon, creating opportunities that few could have imagined before. His vision and leadership provided me with the global stage that allowed me to succeed. David had a deep love for the game of basketball and demanded excellence from those around him – and I admired him for that. I wouldn’t be where I am without him. I offer my deepest sympathies to Dianne and his family.”
Chris Paul: The game lost a leader today. Extending my prayers to David’s family and loved ones in this time of grief 🙏🏾
Magic Johnson: Cookie and I are devastated to hear about the passing of my longtime friend and former NBA Commissioner David Stern. A great man, husband, father, friend, businessman, and visionary, I loved and respected him.
Shams Charania: NBA legend and Hornets owner Michael Jordan’s statement to @TheAthletic @Stadium on death of iconic NBA commissioner David Stern: pic.twitter.com/0MZUiB4pRh
Jeff Zillgitt: NBPA statement on David Stern: “The entire basketball community is heartbroken. David Stern earned and deserved inclusion in our land of giants. His impact on our game and our business is immeasurable and the rewards we reap will continue to be appreciated by NBA players ...” pic.twitter.com/mKv7sA9Gbc
Candace Buckner: #Wizards Coach Scott Brooks starts his pregame availability by expressing his thoughts on the passing of David Stern: "We've lost a legend, an icon. Someone I had a great deal of respect for as a player... and when I became a coach."
Candace Buckner: Scott Brooks on David Stern's legacy: "We wouldn't be in this position as a league if it wasn't for his guidance."
Mark Medina: In a statement released by the team, Warriors coach Steve Kerr sums up the late NBA Commissioner David Stern pretty well: "David Stern made probably a bigger impact on the game than any non player in the history of the NBA." More statements from Kerr, Rick Welts & Bob Myers pic.twitter.com/BdK5Rh15tz
Pau Gasol: Today the #NBAFamily lost a legend, a leader that changed our game for the better. A father, a husband, a friend. RIP #DavidStern, you will forever be missed. 🙏🏼 pic.twitter.com/0dColRyTOT
Mark Jackson: Praying for the Family, Friends, and Fans of Commissioner David Stern! Best ever in Any sport! Thank u!!! #RIP pic.twitter.com/Dekk7I03l0
Dwyane Wade: RIP David Stern🙏🏾! Shaking your hand on June, 26, 2003 was a dream come true ❤️ pic.twitter.com/ZCT7naJPcU
Dave McMenamin: A giant in the game. Took the NBA to heights few imagined it could reach. pic.twitter.com/dsPQFyYK9C
Adrian Wojnarowski: David Stern — the Hall of Fame ex-NBA Commissioner — has died at 77 years old. He oversaw tremendous growth in his 30 years as commissioner, retiring in 2014. Stern had been hospitalized since a brain hemorrhage on Dec. 17.
August 13, 2022 | 9:32 pm EDT Update
Draymond Green: That’s the power of your voice Young! Let’s goooo! Bring the fam to the crib for dinner after
USA Basketball has picked its 12-man roster for the opening second-round window of World Cup qualifying, as the Americans look to move closer to clinching a spot in the field for next year’s event. Jim Boylen will return as coach, assisted again by Ty Ellis and Othella Harrington.
The roster will include six players — Michael Frazier II, Langston Galloway, David Stockton, DaQuan Jeffries, John Jenkins and Eric Mika — who were with the Americans for the previous qualifying window in July. The other six players for games Aug. 25 in Las Vegas against Uruguay and at Colombia on Aug. 29 are Tyler Cavanaugh, Malik Ellison, Dewan Hernandez, Mac McClung, Robert Woodard II and McKinley Wright IV.
August 13, 2022 | 7:37 pm EDT Update
The Warriors can pass on an extension for Poole if they choose, allowing him to become a restricted free agent next summer. If he gets there, one league executive speculates that we can expect at least one team with cap space to be ready to pounce. “I’d watch out for the Magic to be ready to make an offer if he’s restricted, knowing there’s a good chance Golden State is not going to match,” one Eastern Conference executive told Heavy Sports.
“LeBron James has not done enough as a Laker to be on that list,” Jefferson said. “Bron been there now — this is his fourth season, right? They’ve been in there four seasons. Two years, they haven’t made the postseason. One year, they lost in the first round. And one year, they won a championship.”
Memphis at Golden State is another Christmas Day game on the NBA’s preliminary schedule for the 2022-23 season that is on course to be made official this coming week, league sources tell me. More NBA from me: http://marcstein.Substack.com
August 13, 2022 | 5:50 pm EDT Update
“It was just like a shock, but not too much of a shock,” Will Barton said when asked his reaction to the trade. “It was a shock in that, obviously, I had been there eight years, did so much there together, so it’s always shocking when you’ve been somewhere for so long and you’re moving on. But, at the same time, I embraced it, I’m welcoming a new chapter.”