Skip to content

Pat Riley says David Stern “The No. 1 reason why this league is where it is today”

Jan 27, 2014, 1:27 PM EDT

Brooklyn Nets v Atlanta Hawks Getty Images

This is David Stern’s final week as NBA Commissioner — the power exchange to Adam Silver comes over the weekend. Feb. 1 is the final day for David Stern on the job, and we all know the final day on a job you’re just screwing around and cleaning out your desk anyway. Stern is taking some long lunches this week.

Which means this week you’re going to see a lot of tributes coming from every corner to David Stern and what he meant to the league over the past 30 years.

That starts with Pat Riley, the Miami Heat president (and former Lakers’ coach early in the Stern era) who gave Stern on the highest praise speaking to Jeff Zillgitt of the USA Today.

“David Stern is the No. 1 force, the No. 1 reason why this league is where it is today,” Miami Heat President Pat Riley said. “That’s not disrespectful to any one great player in any one era or any owner. This has to do with the leadership of one man.

“Over that span of time, things don’t change because they’re coincidences. They don’t. There’s somebody at the top who is going to eliminate what is bad and market what is good. He was a very forceful, very pragmatic visionary.”

Owners are going to sing his praises — he has made them a lot of money over the years and molded the NBA into a $5.5 billion a year business. Players should be thankful as well — the pool of money for player salaries is based on how much money the league brings in, and this is now a league where the average player makes more than $5 million a season.

Stern was a marketing visionary who understood what the NBA had to sell was stars — Magic Johnson and Larry Bird to start, building with Michael Jordan and on through today with LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and through the rising stars like Stephen Curry. The NBA can’t sell parity and the limited product (just 16 games) like the NFL, it’s a different animal. Stern understood that and steered the course.

The league is much better, much stronger for it. And we as fans are better off for it, too.

Latest Posts
  1. Disgraced NBA referee Tim Donaghy to appear in CNBC documentary

    May 21, 2015, 11:30 PM EDT

    Image (1) donaghy-thumb-250x140-11779.jpg for post 2008

    Donaghy was sent to prison for betting on NBA games while he was employed as a league official.

  2. Isiah Thomas hasn’t talked to Phil Jackson ‘because of the perception’

    May 21, 2015, 8:30 PM EDT

    Isiah Thomas Isiah Thomas

    Thomas is now running New York’s WNBA team, but many feel it’s just a matter of time before he’s back in some capacity with the Knicks.

  3. PBT Extra: No DeMarre Carroll leaves Hawks in tough spot

    May 21, 2015, 6:30 PM EDT

    This is now a team without its two best wing defenders.

  4. PBT Extra: J.R. makes case for hot hand theory, is loved in Cleveland

    May 21, 2015, 4:59 PM EDT

    Cleveland Cavaliers v Atlanta Hawks - Game One Getty Images

    If the NBA gave points for degree of difficulty, how much more valuable would he be?

  5. Pelicans’ Tyreke Evans undergoes arthroscopic knee surgery

    May 21, 2015, 4:15 PM EDT

    New Orleans Pelicans v Golden State Warriors - Game One Getty Images

    Evans should be good to go by the start of training camp next season.

  6. PBT Extra: Draft Lottery winers start with Lakers

    May 21, 2015, 3:45 PM EDT

    2012 NBA Draft Lottery 2012 NBA Draft Lottery

    Lakers fans feel the basketball gods owed them after a few brutal years of injuries; fans of 29 other NBA teams would beg to differ.

  7. Mitch Kupchak on Lakers’ reported interest in Tom Thibodeau: “Nothing to it”

    May 21, 2015, 1:45 PM EDT

    2014-15 KIA Most Improved Player Award 2014-15 KIA Most Improved Player Award

    A report surfaced Wednesday suggesting they were planning on pursuing the Bulls coach.

  8. Stephen Curry, LeBron James unanimous choices, lead All-NBA First Team

    May 21, 2015, 12:01 PM EDT

    Stephen Curry AP

    Anthony Davis, Marc Gasol and James Harden round out the first team.

  9. Mavericks president on Rick Carlisle: ‘He can be in Dallas as long as he wants to be’

    May 21, 2015, 11:45 AM EDT

    Houston Rockets v Dallas Mavericks - Game Four Getty Images

    Carlisle is an excellent coach, but this type of job security is nearly unprecedented

Featured video

Small ball lineup propelled Warriors to Game 1 win
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Irving (5921)
  2. K. Love (5058)
  3. P. Beverley (4622)
  4. D. Howard (4096)
  5. S. Curry (3891)
  1. K. Durant (3542)
  2. M. Speights (3506)
  3. K. Bryant (3328)
  4. L. James (3307)
  5. R. Rondo (3097)