Skip to content

David Stern talks Jordan, television, race in the NBA

Mar 29, 2013, 7:31 PM EDT

David Stern AP

Over the next 11 months (almost 10 now) until David Stern walks away as NBA Commissioner after 30 years on the job, we are going to be innundated with retrospective interviews and discussions of his time in office and the evolution of the NBA in that time.

Along those lines, Stern spoke at a “Captains of Industry” event in New York Friday, where he was interviewed by Bloomberg Businessweek editor Josh Turangiel. The Web site Gothamist transcribed and gives us some of the best quotes out of the discussion.

Stern on his relationship with Michael Jordan:

“It’s good. I call him up and bust his chops when his team is not doing well, which is a lot.”

Stern on the issue of race in the NBA (when he started working for the league in 1978 race was one of the league’s key image issues and now it is an almost non-existent marketing concern).

“I don’t know if or where it ended, but of course it [race] is an important part of our history. I remember being called by an agent for an advertiser who said he didn’t want to advertise with us anymore because we were getting “too black.” An important columnist at the time, who I won’t name, said, “there’s no way America will accept a majority black league.”

“It’s a much larger story, but race is a part of our story, maybe it always will be, or at least an undercurrent, but it’s wonderfully, wonderfully ignored by a generation of people who just grew up being basketball fans.”

Stern talked about the growth of the NBA on television.

“In 1978 I was hired as general council, and I thought, I’ll do it for two years with a one year option. I figured it was a fun opportunity that I didn’t want to look back on and say I passed up…

At that time the finals were televised on tape delay and the only time we made the national stage was because of acts of violence or race issues.

Weekend day games were one of the few ways we could get live broadcasts, and I remember the Houston vs. Celtics finals we scheduled back-to-back Saturday and Sunday day games just to have the live telecast. Compare that to now, LeBron James had probably been seen more by high school than Wilt Chamberlain or Bill Russell had been in their entire careers.

And the off the wall question of the day: Would he want to be mayor of New York City?

“I’m not crazy.”

Latest Posts
  1. Derrick Rose held out of USA exhibition vs. Dominican Republic, technically ‘coach’s decision’

    Aug 20, 2014, 8:44 PM EDT

    Derrick Rose Derrick Rose

    Rose hasn’t practiced since playing 24 minutes in Saturday’s win over Brazil.

  2. Warriors’ Nemanja Nedovic to miss FIBA World Cup

    Aug 20, 2014, 6:19 PM EDT

    Portland Trail Blazers v Golden State Warriors Getty Images

    Nedovic had hoped to play for Serbia, but couldn’t get medical clearance.

  3. Kevin Durant: Stephen Curry ‘is terrible’ in NBA2K

    Aug 20, 2014, 5:07 PM EDT

    Stephen Curry Stephen Curry

    Video game Curry doesn’t come close to shooting as well as the real life version.

  4. Report: Suns discussing trade possibilities for Eric Bledsoe

    Aug 20, 2014, 4:12 PM EDT

    Oklahoma City Thunder v Phoenix Suns Getty Images

    If Bledsoe decides to play for the qualifying offer, he’ll almost certainly bolt as an unrestricted free agent next summer.

  5. Nene says playing Anthony Davis is like fighting Dhalsim from Street Fighter

    Aug 20, 2014, 2:04 PM EDT

    dhalsim_street_fighter

    Strangest comparison ever. And pretty accurate.

  6. Report: Heat trying to add shooting guard, another big but for veteran minimum

    Aug 20, 2014, 12:09 PM EDT

    Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade AP

    Miami could use the depth, but at this point the pickings are slim.

  7. Report: Sixers may look to trade for Amar’e Stoudemire at this season’s deadline

    Aug 20, 2014, 11:17 AM EDT

    New York Knicks  v Philadelphia 76ers Getty Images

    Move would be purely financial for Philadelphia, but if Stoudemire is contributing at that time, Knicks may pass.

  8. Stephen Curry says he, Klay Thompson would be best NBA Jam duo in NBA

    Aug 20, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    Oklahoma City Thunder v Golden State Warriors Getty Images

    Best NBA Jam duo on a current team? Give me Durant and Westbrook.

  9. Lakers top 10 plays of the 2013-14 season (VIDEO)

    Aug 19, 2014, 10:29 PM EDT

    New Orleans Pelicans v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

    Highlights only serve as a reminder of just how bad things were in Los Angeles.

  10. Matt Bonner goes new car shopping, chooses Chevy

    Aug 19, 2014, 6:00 PM EDT

    Matt Bonner

    Bonner now drives a 2014 Chevy Impala.

Featured video

Will LeBron get booed Christmas Day in Miami?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Rose (3254)
  2. P. George (2739)
  3. L. James (2723)
  4. D. Cousins (2701)
  5. K. Bryant (2282)
  1. R. Allen (2276)
  2. S. Marion (2275)
  3. A. Davis (2131)
  4. C. Anthony (2057)
  5. S. Curry (1951)