David Stern Named NBA Commissioner – February 1, 1984
David Stern became the commissioner of the NBA on Februay 1, 1984, a position he held until he stepped down on the same date, 30 years later. Stern has by far, the longest tenure of any NBA commissioner (Maurice Podloff, the league’s first commissioner, previously held the record. He served from 1946-1963.)
According to NBA.com “As commissioner, Mr. Stern built the model for professional sports in league operations, public service, global marketing and digital technology. He oversaw the NBA’s extraordinary growth with seven new franchises, a more than 30-fold increase in revenues, a dramatic expansion of national television exposure and the launch of two leagues, the Women’s National Basketball Association and the NBA Development League. He implemented the first anti-drug agreement in professional sports and introduced the salary cap system and revenue sharing to the NBA.”
Stern announced his intention to resign on October 25, 2012. At that time ESPN wrote:
Stern’s fingerprints can be found across the league’s operations, most notably on strong revenue growth, the expansion from 23 to 30 teams, the movement into small markets such as Sacramento, Memphis and Oklahoma City, the spreading global reach spurred on by the league’s backing of letting its players take part in the Olympics, and the establishment of the WNBA.
Stern also oversaw the implementation of drug testing that helped root out a major league issue in the 1980s. Repeating on Thursday something he’s said often in the past, Stern said some of the lowest moments of his time as commissioner were banning players from the league because of positive drug tests.
He developed a reputation for being a ruthless negotiator even before he took over as commissioner, working as one of the league’s top attorneys starting in 1966. That carried over during negotiations with players over the years, which featured a strengthening — if expanding — salary cap and ultimately led to two work stoppages.
Meanwhile, the value of franchises soared. When Stern took over, teams were being sold in the $20 million range. In 2010, the Golden State Warriors set a record when they were sold for $450 million.