By Bill Shea, January 3, 2020
The obituaries, memorials and testimonials about David Stern since his New Year’s Day death at age 77 have painted a similar picture of the former NBA commissioner: A man, by turns gregarious and tyrannical, who shepherded the league from the brink of ruin in the early 1980s to a star-driven $5 billion global brand that has enriched both players and owners.
Stern’s business savvy when it came to marketing, broadcast, technology and labor deals created the modern NBA, with players now averaging $7.6 million in annual salary and franchises valued in the billions of dollars.
His tenure, not without moments of controversy, included creation of most of the NBA’s lucrative digital and social media properties along with entities such as NBA League Pass and NBA TV, all of which helped make the league a worldwide behemoth.
Stern’s life since his 2014 retirement after 30 years as commissioner is a second act tale of one of the most powerful figures in sports...