Stern, David : Jews In Sports @ Virtual Museum

Stern, David

Stern is the current commissioner of the NBA, and has often been called the most powerful man in sports. Under his watch, the NBA has become one of the most popular, and successful, leagues in the world.

Birth and Death Dates:
Sept. 22, 1942

Career Highlights:
After graduating from Columbia Law School in 1966, Stern began handling legal business for the NBA. In 1978, he left his law firm to become legal counsel for the league. Two years later, the position of "Executive Vice President, Business and Legal Affairs" was created for Stern, and he was charged with finding creative and productive ways to use marketing, television, and public relations to boost the NBA's image.

In 1984, at the age of 42, Stern became the fourth commissioner of the NBA. When he assumed his new office, the league was going through an exceptionally difficult financial period. Most teams were losing money. Fan attendance and television ratings had dropped, causing corporate sponsorship to dwindle substantially. Under Stern's leadership, however, the league became unprecedentedly successful. Stern negotiated an agreement between the players and owners -- who had long regarded each other as adversaries -- based on revenue sharing. The result was labor peace, as well as prosperity for both players and owners.

Stern also marketed the league by emphasizing the extraordinary skills of such individual stars as Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and Michael Jordan. He was so successful that in the late 1980s, the National Football League tried to hire him as commissioner to replace Pete Rozell. Stern declined, remaining with the NBA. In 1989, the Associated Press voted David the Executive of the Decade.

New York City

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Great Jews in Sports by Robert Slater (New York: Jonathan David Publishers, 2000)
The Official NBA Encyclopedia: Third Edition, edited by Jan Hubbard (New York: Doubleday, 2000)