When David Stern passed away on New Year’s Day in 2020, NBA players and fans alike stood still and remembered the iconic lawyer and businessman for the icon that he was. As the commissioner of the National Basketball Association from 1984 until 2014, he is credited for changing the world of basketball and bringing the sport into the center stage. While everyone knows that he increased the popularity of basketball, few people know how he really changed the face of the NBA.
The Longest-Serving Commissioner
Before he passed away, David Stern was able to celebrate the fact that he had become the longest-serving commissioner within the NBA, and his achievements were honored by his induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, alongside the FIBA Hall of Fame. On the day of his passing, his legacy was also memorialized by the countless stories and anecdotes that current and former players shared about him. One of the most poignant came from Magic Johnson.
Changing the Game
Within a collection of tweets, Magic noted that Stern was the only one who took a chance on him when he was diagnosed with HIV in 1991. At the time, the disease was extremely stigmatized, and many believed that it could be caught by just being in close proximity to the person infected with it. However, Stern didn’t want one of the best players in the business to be shunned in such a way. So, he read medical journals, he did his research, and he talked to experts to understand more about the disease in order to educate others. He continued to allow Magic to play, and he proved to everyone that basketball was so much more than a diagnosis. Alongside this, Stern is also credited for changing the overall perception of the game in terms of the backgrounds of players, their ethnicities, and so much more.
Yes — David Stern changed the face of the NBA.