Wednesday, November 6, 2013

What Legacy Does NBA Commissioner David Stern Leave Behind?

In February 2014, David Stern will step down as commissioner of the NBA, leaving the business to his Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver. Stern's shoes will be hard to fill.

He's not without his faults, of course. But, looking at his history in the league since 1984 there is little doubt that David Stern was a visionary that did amazing things for the sport...and the business of sport. A great profile in MediaPost on Tuesday broke down many of his successes, as well as some more trying times. Here are a few highlights he presided over in his career: 

  • Basketball is now truly an international sport with games being broadcast in over 200 countries and territories across the world
  • NBA teams are now worth an average of $400 million, versus $11-19 million when he began his tenure
  • He brought about the "Dream Team" filling the USA Olympic basketball team with professional players
  • He oversaw the expansion of the league to include 7 new teams - two in Canada
  • He developed the WNBA
  • He established enormously profitable partnerships, allowing companies like Nike and Gatorade to align themselves with the NBA brand increasing their own equity tremendously.  

As a marketer, David Stern is someone to admire. He had a grand vision of bringing the game of basketball to every corner of the world. He did just that, and built one hell of a brand along the way. What are your thoughts on his legacy from a marketing/business perspective? What about from a sports fan's perspective?