11.14.2009

Stern is Leading Candidate to Replace O'Brien

1983-84 Boston Celtics
November 13, 1983

Larry O'Brien is vacating his throne Feb. 1, and NBA owners can do themselves a favor by electing David Stern the next commissioner. You probably haven't heard of Stern because he's never won a slam-dunk contest, starred in a television sitcom or served as Secretary of the Treasury. He's merely a low-profile guy who has been the NBA's de facto commissioner for the last couple of years.

A bespectacled 41-year-old lawyer, Stern joined the NBA as its legal counsel in 1978 and currently serves as executive vice president of business and legal affairs. No one knows more about NBA marketing, television and law than David Stern. He was the architect of the league's cable contract and has been the NBA's liaison with CBS. When it was needed most, he breathed life into the league's marketing and promotions departments.

A graduate of Rutgers and Columbia Law School (where he was editor of the law review), Stern was a partner in the law firm of Proskauer, Rose, Goetz and Mendelsohn before joining the NBA. He had an enormous impact on the innovative collective-bargaining agreement signed by league owners and players last spring. He remains one of the few people who fully understand the contract. Clearly, Stern is the man with all the necessary credentials. It would be a mistake for the owners to seek a more "visible" candidate for the job. The NBA board of governors is scheduled to meet Tuesday in New York, and a 10- owner advisory committee will submit one or more candidates to the board.

Some owners will look for a "name" candidate. There will be support, no doubt, for the likes of Jerry Colangelo, William Simon, Paul Simon, Sargent Shriver, Red Auerbach, Redd Foxx, Elvin and Woody Hayes, Gary Coleman, Coleman Young, David Bowie and Bowie Kuhn, but there is no need for a search. The next commissioner won't even charge moving expenses. He's right across the hall from Larry O'Brien.

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