David Stern has done lot of good. David Stern has also done a lot of bad. Oh, and he once accused Jim Rome of beating his wife in a horrible attempt at a red herring. Now that Stern is stepping down in 2014 (which I won’t really believe until I actually see it happen), we can start debating his legacy and what he’s really meant to the league.
Everyone makes more money, TV ratings are sky high, cocaine is no longer as common as late-game free throws and there’s labor peace. He will have been the longest tenured commissioner in professional sports.
But the guy is also just a world class a-hole. Plus, teams unnecessarily relocated on his watch, he probably fixed the 1985 lottery so the Knicks could get Patrick Ewing (Ed. Note: totally baseless conspiracy theory) and he oversaw the Tim Donaghy scandal and refused to admit that it ran deeper than just Donaghy despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. He was regularly booed when he made public appearances on the NBA’s account (NBA Draft, NBA All-Star game) and he implemented a dress code that was so unnecessary not a single player in the league seemed to think it was the right thing to do.
Opposition to his decisions didn’t really matter, though, because he’s the commissioner. He seemed to relish the villain role, even when he was public enemy No. 1 after he vetoed the Lakers-Chris Paul trade for reasons like “He felt like it,” and “He was bored.” Quite a complicated guy, considering he’s also regarded as otherworldly smart and was being used a league lawyer as early as 1966 (he was born in 1942).
And I don’t know why I keep talking about him in the past tense – he’s still going to be commissioner until 2014, and even then he’ll either not retire or he’ll just tell Adam Silver what to do every step of the way. Who are we kidding…David Stern isn’t going anywhere.