News broke this afternoon that David Stern will step down as NBA commissioner on February 1st, 2014, exactly 30 years after he took over the league in 1984:
Stern will be succeeded by deputy commissioner Adam Silver (blech), who commented that Stern would be remembered as “the best of all-time.” I’m not sure about that.
While it’s true that Stern was responsible for overseeing and growing the league during the NBA’s “golden-years,” recent memory has seen him become a caricature of himself. The past decade has seen his legacy marred by suspicion of conspiracy surrounding the draft lottery (with the Hornets, and the Cavs, and the Bulls–every year really), refereeing (I see you Sacramento Kings fans), and of course the infamous “basketball reasons.” Stern appears to have held on too long and our final impressions of him may be less than flattering.
Still, it’s hard to complain too much when his contemporaries Selig, Bettman, and Goodell have all been similarly reviled by their fan bases. I’ll remember Stern best for accepting his role with delightful aplomb, cupping his ear and egging on boo’s on draft night like some sort of bizzaro comic-book super-villain come to life. That might be the image of Stern that sticks best long after his tenure has passed, and in a world where none of the current major sports commissioners are viewed in a positive light, at least you can say that Stern was entertaining.