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David Stern
Born David Joel Stern
September 22, 1942 (1942-09-22) (age 67)
New York City, New York U.S.
Occupation NBA Commissioner

David Joel Stern[1] is the commissioner of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He began his association with the NBA in 1966 as outside counsel, joined the NBA in 1978 as General Counsel, and became the league's Executive Vice President in 1980. He became Commissioner in 1984, succeeding Larry O'Brien. Stern has served on the Rutgers University Board of Overseers and currently serves as Chair of the Board of Trustees of Columbia University. He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.[2]


Early life

David Stern born on September 22, 1942 in New York City, New York to a Jewish family.[3] He grew up in Teaneck, New Jersey, and is a graduate of Teaneck High School. Stern attended Rutgers University, where in 1960 he pledged to the Sigma Delta Chapter of Sigma Alpha Mu Fraternity. He graduated as a dean's-list history student in 1963 and graduated from Columbia Law School in 1966, and was admitted to the bar in New York later that year after passing the state's bar examination.[1]

National Basketball Association

His first association with the NBA in 1966 was as an outside counsel. In 1978, Stern became the NBA's General Counsel. By 1980, he was Executive Vice President of the NBA. During this time two landmark decisions were reached with the NBA Players' Association: drug testing and team salary cap.[4] The drug testing dealt with the perception that most basketball players used drugs, that the NBA admitted it had a problem, and it was cleaning it up. The salary cap created a revenue-sharing system where owner and player were effectively partners. Both of these agreements solidified Stern's standing inside NBA circles.

On February 1, 1984, Stern became the fourth Commissioner of the NBA, succeeding Larry O'Brien. It was during that same year (1984-85) that four of the NBA's biggest superstars — Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon, Charles Barkley, and John Stockton — entered the league.

The arrival of Michael Jordan, in particular, ushered in a new era of commercial bounty for the NBA. With him came his flair and talent for the game, and that brought in shoe contracts from Nike which helped to give the league even more national attention.[5] Jordan and the two other premier basketball legends of the 1980s, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, took the game to new heights of popularity and profit. By 2004, Stern had seen the NBA expand from 23 to 30 franchises, expand into Canada, and televise games in countries around the world.

Stern also oversaw the creation of the WNBA, a professional women's basketball league. Under Stern's watch the NBA has undergone an unprecedented internationalization. Setting up NBA training camps and exhibition games around the globe as well as the influx of international players into the league which have played a role in developing the character of the NBA in the 21st century.[6] The NBA now has 11 offices in cities outside the United States, is televised in countries around the world, in 42 languages, and operates the Women's National Basketball Association and the National Basketball Development League under the guidance of Stern.[7]

Under Stern's watch the NBA's charitable contributions have increased. Including the NBA's "Read to Achieve" and "NBA Cares" social programs, organized throughout various NBA communities.[2]


Notable events during Stern's tenure


Stern was accused by former NBA official Tim Donaghy of fixing the sixth game of the 2002 Western Conference Finals. In this game the Los Angeles Lakers shot 27 free throws in the fourth quarter alone as well as numerous questionable calls throughout the game. Donaghy also claimed that the 2005 Western Conference first round between the Houston Rockets and the Dallas Mavericks were fixed in the Rockets' favor for the first two games before the next two were fixed in the Mavericks' favor due to Mark Cuban complaining because of referees calling the game on one side. Donaghy's claims were dismissed by Stern as a rogue official grasping at straws.


  1. ^ a b Attorney Directory, Attorney Detail: David Joel Stern, New York State Unified Court System  . To search the site, go to the following URL:
    The New York State Unified Court System prohibits direct links to its site from external websites.
  2. ^ a b David J. Stern, National Basketball Association. Accessed September 3, 2007.
  3. ^
  4. ^ Halberstam, David (1999). Playing for Keeps: Michael Jordan and the World he Made. Random House. p. 120. ISBN 0767904443.  
  5. ^ Burns, Marty (2002-05-07). "In terms of dollars, Jordan was NBA's real MVP". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 2007-07-20.  
  6. ^ DuPree, David. "NBA Finals are whole new world", USA Today, June 14, 2005. Accessed September 3, 2007.
  7. ^ City of Seattle

External links

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Larry O'Brien
NBA Commissioner
1984 – present
Succeeded by


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