Though David Stern’s tenure has been met with as much criticism as appreciation, he at least earned the respect of one NBA player.
As vice president of the NBA Players Association during last season’s lockout, Matt Bonner was naturally opposed to the owners — and, by extension, the long-time commissioner.
Stern was a prominent figure in the lockout deliberations that nearly cut the entire season.
And yet, he still impressed Bonner. In one notable meeting, Stern simply absorbed the entire conversation, without speaking, before addressing the two heated parties. Bonner, especially, admired his approach and eloquence under pressure.
“I have tremendous respect for him,” Bonner said. “Even though he was on the other side of things last, I tried to learn as much as I could from him and take advantage of the opportunity. My biggest thing was being there in person to watch what he does, the little things he does to get his way and persuade you and shape the way you think about things. His language, the way he puts things, is a lot smarter than I could do it.”
Stern announced his retirement yesterday. Deputy commissioner Adam Silver will succeed Stern on Feb. 1, 2014, exactly 30 years since his first day as head of the NBA.
He’ll leave knowing that he was able to command respect and build a successful league in the process.