Forbes, Legendary NBA Commissioner David Stern Dies At 77, Tommy Beer, Jan 1, 2020.
- Pro Basketball languished a distant third in popularity (and income generated) behind the NFL and MLB in the early 1980s. The NBA brought in less than $25 million annually in network revenue.
- On October 6, 2014 (less than eight months after Stern stepped down), the league announced a nine-year extension with ESPN, ABC and Turner Sports beginning with the 2016–17 season and running through the 2024–25 season. The new deal was worth a reported $24.3 billion ($2.7 billion annually). That represented a nearly 200% increase from the prior level of $930 million. It's considered the second most expensive media rights deal in the world, trailing only the NFL. According to Sports Business Daily, ESPN will pay $1.4 billion and Turner Sports $1.2 billion.
- Per the New York Times, "By the time Mr. Stern ceded his title to Adam Silver in 2014, the NBA had opened offices in 15 cities outside the United States and signed agreements to televise games in more than 200 countries, in more than 40 languages."
The New York Times, David Stern, Transformative N.B.A. Commissioner, Dies at 77, Marc Stein, Jan. 1, 2020
- David Stern, who during a 30-year run as commissioner of the National Basketball Association masterminded its transformation from a league in peril to a multibillion-dollar industry and the first American sports league to thrive internationally, died on Wednesday in Manhattan. He was 77.
ESPN, David Stern always had the NBA’s best interests at heart – Stephen A. Smith | SC with SVP, Jan. 1, 2020
The Washington Post, Behind the NBA’s soaring success was David Stern’s fighting spirit, Ben Golliver, Jan. 1, 2020.
- Stern will be remembered as a relentless, uncompromising leader during his 30-year tenure, a lawyer whose marketing instincts helped the NBA ride Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Michael Jordan — and later Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James — to new heights of global popularity. At every stop, there were confrontations.
- The NBA’s explosive growth since Stern took over in 1984 is a tidy narrative: The Portland Trail Blazers, as just one example, were sold for $70 million in 1988 and are now valued at $1.6 billion. Yet talk of Stern’s legacy must include the bumps and bruises, the pugnacious spirit that led critics to label him as a “bully” and a “dictator.”
- Remember, these targets were the NBA’s crème de la crème. Jordan: the most popular and marketable modern player, a six-time champion whose banned shoes turned into a billion-dollar business. Popovich: perhaps the most respected modern coach, a five-time champion whose organization has pioneered everything from international scouting to efficient shot distribution. And Cuban: a tech billionaire whose over-the-top investments in his organization led to the 2011 title and helped raise the bar for modern owners.
USA Today, LeBron James on David Stern: ‘He definitely should have something named after him’, Mark Medina, Jan. 2, 2020.
- He then turned the league into a global empire. Stern played a large part in the NBA morphing from a league that showed the NBA Finals on tape delay into one that has a multi-billion television deal.
- "You got to give him so much credit,” James said, for the NBA broadcasting its games in more than 200 countries. That’s because Stern placed a heavy emphasis on marketing the league’s superstars.
- “It was a dream come true to step up on that stage and shake David’s hand knowing where I come from,” James said. “I remember that handshake. I remember him giving me that hat and I remember that handshake. I will never, ever forget that.”
- “We had our battles,” James said. “We also understood that we wanted to do whatever it takes to help grow the game, and that was the one common goal on both sides. So even though we had our differences at times at the round table, there was one common thing that we all left that room. We were saying, ‘How can we continue to build this game, and expand this game to where it is today?’”
- Because he considered Stern a “great visionary” in finding answers to that question, James thinks Stern is the greatest commissioner in all of professional sports.
"His legacy will live on forever.”
Google, David Stern search, Jan 1, 2020.
Marca, David Stern, el verdadero arquitecto de la actual NBA, Jorge Quiroga, Enero 2 2020.
- Las drogas eran un problema que la propia Liga había admitido y Stern consiguió erradicarlas. El límite salarial creó un sistema de sueldos-ganancias en el que propietarios y jugadores se convertían en socios. Frenó la crisis económica y le dio a la Liga un pulmón con el que respirar. Ambas decisiones, cruciales para la NBA, le catapultaron hasta el puesto que ocupó en 2014 y desde el que dirigió una expansión como no ha habido otra en el deporte y, quizá, en el mundo empresarial.
- De la mano de Stern, la NBA vivió su etapa de mayor esplendor. Tras comprobar que Magic, Bird y Jordan elevaban la popularidad de la Liga, lideró el proyecto más ambicioso: La globalización. Y parió otro gran logro, el Dream Team en Barcelona 92 que cambió el baloncesto para siempre.
- Bajo su mandato, la NBA logró elevar sus ingresos casi en 40 veces, el salario medio de los jugadores pasó de 250.000 dólares al año en 1984 a más de 5 millones de dólares, y el valor de las franquicias se disparó al superar una gran mayoría los 1.000 millones de dólares. Promocionó el All Star hasta convertirlo en un fiesta mundial, expandió la Liga en siete equipos más y gestionó seis cambios de franquicias. Y abrió 13 oficinas en todo el mundo como prueba del crecimiento de la Liga. Y hasta fundó la WNBA (la NBA femenina) en 1997.
USA Today Sports, 5 ways Stern helped shape the NBA, Jeff Zillgitt, Jan. 2, 2020.
- TV/viewership growth. He reached deals with multiple TV networks and introduced League Pass, where almost every game is available to watch online, on a mobile phone or TV around the world, reaching millions and millions of fans. There is regular NBA content on TV, beyond games, on ESPN, ABC, TNT and NBA TV.
- Global vision. Stern was intent on bringing the NBA to the world. Getting NBA players into the 1992 Barcelona Olympics is a seminal moment. The world saw NBA talent and young international players were inspired. There were 108 international players on NBA rosters at the start of this season compared to 24 in 1994-95. Last season’s MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo, was born in Nigeria, moved to Greece with his family and became a star in the NBA.
- Player marketing. Stern was a lawyer by trade but also a masterful marketer. He understood that the players were recognizable and had wonderful stories to tell. It also helped that two of the league’s best players on two of the league’s best teams when Stern took over were also two of the most marketable: Earvin Johnson with the Los Angeles Lakers and Larry Bird with the Boston Celtics.
Then, Michael Jordan reached the NBA. Not only was Jordan talented, he was the perfect endorser for sports drinks, sports apparel, sports gear, cereal, soft drinks, fast-food, car companies, hot dogs and movies.
LeBron James has taken it to the next level with endorsement, investment, ownership and media opportunities. Forbes estimates that James makes nearly $53 million a year from off-court business deals.
- Social responsibility. Stern wanted the league, its teams and players to profit. But he also believed they shared a responsibility to help others. The NBA/WNBA Cares programs are impossible to quantify, but players and league and team employees spend hours and hours in philanthropic endeavors large and small.
- Handing the keys to Adam Silver. Any league faces a transition when a long-time commissioner steps aside, and Stern had the foresight to make that transition as easy as possible by making sure the next person in charge had a firm understanding of the league.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, whose father Edward worked with Stern at a New York City law firm, joined the NBA in 1992 and worked his way up through the entertainment and business sides. He took an active role in the 2011 NBA lockout and was ready for the top job by 2014.
Silver negotiated a nine-year, $24 billion TV deal. He also helped the value of franchises grow to where the expected average valuation for each NBA team is expected to reach $2 billion, according to Forbes.
Silver has also managed crises, including the Donald Sterling situation, and he had a master class in crisis management under Stern.
For the Win, The 10 things that will define David Stern’s legacy, Charles Curtis, Jan. 2, 2020.
- That’s pretty much it. Stern was the engine that drove the popularity and growth that made the NBA the most beloved league in the United States (don’t give me the NFL, you may enjoy the game, but it’s marred by so much controversy) and an international hit.
- If you take away anything from Stern’s legacy, it’s these 10 things, even though the list could be at least three times as long.
1. The understanding that the NBA was players first
2. International growth
3. The salary cap
4. The draft lottery
5. The Dream Team
6. Handling labor strife
7. The dress code
8. The way he handled controversy
9. The Chris Paul trade
10. The rules that ushered in the new NBA