I was sitting in my living room, engaging in a friendly game of NBA 2K20 with my brother, when a notification popped up on the phone.
I quickly glanced at it, but not fully, as my mind was focused on the final score of our game. After I lost, I took a look at the notification, and was disappointed by the unfortunate news: former NBA commissioner David Stern had passed away at age 77, due to brain hemorrhage.
It wasn’t until recently, that I realized this, but David Stern IS the reason why the NBA is successful today. You can witness his fingerprints around the league.
He increased the popularity during the 1980s with TV deals, that helped showcase the league’s top stars, to the country. And this was during a time, where the league almost folded, due to a lack of interest, and the ongoing cocaine problems that negatively impacted the sport.
Stern was the mastermind behind the construction of the 1992 United States men’s Olympic Basketball team, or the “Dream Team”, led by Micheal Jordan, Magic Johnson, and Larry Bird, the greatest collection of basketball talent, in the sport’s history. That squad also increased the popularity of the sport at the international level, influencing a generation of children born in different countries, to play basketball.
He helped get my Knicks back to relevance in the 1990s, with the introductions of the draft lottery, and the entire “frozen envelope” conspiracy, that allowed us to draft Georgetown star, Patrick Ewing.
He cracked down on NBA player safety, and fan safety, and increased the professionalism within the league, in the aftermath of the infamous, “Malice in the Palace” brawl. He increased the average salary of his players, from $250,000 to $7 million dollars.
These are just a couple of the remarkable things that Stern did, too many to count, to help improve this great league, and the sport of basketball. His impact was without question. He changed many lives, and inspired several generations, to want to go play basketball.
Yesterday, we lost a legend. His death is truly sad, but his legacy will be remembered forever. I personally felt like this piece was necessary, to properly commemorate the great man we know as Emeritus David Stern, and to celebrate his life. Sleep in peace David!
If you made it to the end, thank you so much for reading. Leave a comment if you liked, or disliked this piece. And please, share this with your friends. With that being said, HAPPY NEW YEAR! And much success in 2020!
(Originally posted January 2, 2020 on Medium. Edited May 22, 2020 on WordPress.)