NBA Commissioner David Stern, left, shaking hands with No. 7 draft pick Harrison Barnes during the 2012 NBA Draft, announced Thursday that he will retire as commissioner in 2014. (Photo : Reuters)
An era in NBA Basketball is about to close, as longtime NBA Commissioner David Stern announced Thursday that he will step down from his post at the end of the 2014 season.
The announcement came during an NBA Board of Governors meeting, the Associated Press reports. Replacing Stern at his position, which he has held since February 1984, will be Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver.
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''I decided that things are in great shape and there's an organization in place that will ultimately be led by Adam that is totally prepared to take it to the next level,'' Stern said.
A native of Teaneck, N.J., Stern, 70, graduated from Columbia Law School in 1966 and served as an outside legal counsel to the NBA at New York law firm Proskauer Rose LLP. By 1980 he was Executive Vice President of the league before he eventually succeeded Larry O'Brien to become the commissioner - a post that he has served longer than anyone else in league history.
Under Stern, the league grew into a worldwide sport, helped by the emergence of a young Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls, whose talent attracted shoe deals from Nike that garnered the league added interest. Stern points to the success of the 1992 US Olympic Dream Team - arguably the most talented team ever assembled-as the catalyst that sparked international explosion for the league.
In addition, according to ESPN, during Stern's tenure, the NBA has added seven franchises - with six other teams relocating-and he is credited for fostering the league's growth as they created the WNBA for women, the NBA developmental league, and expanding the league's broadcasting to 215 countries worldwide in more than 40 languages.
''For the most part it's been a series of extraordinary experiences and enormous putting together of pieces of a puzzle and it goes on forever,'' Stern said. ''And there will always be another piece of the puzzle and so the question is at what point do you decide that, let someone else do it? That's the point that I'm at now.''
Marc Stein of ESPN reported Thursday that there had been rumors of Stern's decision to step down ever since the lockout-shortened season last year.
"He made it clear that for the first time," Stein said on ESPN, speaking on when Stern thought handing the reins over to Adam Silver "was on his mind and something to be talked about."
Stein noted that Stern's popularity had really taken a hit with fans in recent years due to the lockout, the commissioner becoming a target of fans' frustration. However, overall, Stein expects that Stern's legacy will be overwhelmingly positive, synonymous with the revival of the league from a second-rate sport into a global franchise.
Stein added, "He has been a visionary commissioner and taking the league worldwide has been something that he's really, really focused on, and you have to say that outside of the English Premiere League in soccer, no sport has been able to globalize like the NBA. And I think that is going to be the thing that we're going to be able to look back and say that David Stern was most successful at."