Silver Age begins as Stern's Golden Era ends

by Jim Slater, Agence France-Presse

Posted at Feb 02 2014 08:37 AM | Updated as of Feb 02 2014 04:37 PM

NEW YORK - After 30 years as commissioner of the NBA that saw the league become a global sports powerhouse, David Stern's reign ended not with a bang but with a tweet.

The league announced Saturday morning on its Twitter page that Adam Silver had officially replaced Stern as commissioner exactly 30 years to the day from when the 71-year-old son of a New York deli owner took the job.

"It's official: Adam silver succeeds David Stern as NBA commissioner" read the note with an attached photo of Stern shaking hands with Silver, the long-time assistant deputy commissioner who was holding a basketball with the view from the commissioner's office of New York in the background.

Among those who tweeted their congratulations to was former San Antonio Spurs star center David Robinson, who told Stern: "Thank you for all you've done for our league."

Twitter did not even exist when Stern took over an NBA whose games were often shown on tape delay, but navigating the league through technological evolutions was merely one of Stern's legacies.

A league where players made an average of $290,000 when Stern began as commissioner in 1984 now sees players making an average of $5.7 million.

Annual revenues are $5.5 billion compared to $165 million when he took charge. Average attendance is 17,269 compared to 10,620 in 1984.

And the number of international players has grown from only eight 30 years ago to a record 92 non-US players this season, a one-team record 10 on the Spurs.

"If you look at what the NBA has become, my greatest accomplishment was in hiring the now 1,200 people that used to be 24 that have taken this league where it is and under Adam's leadership are going to take it higher yet.

"This is an opportunity for Adam and my colleagues to step up one more time and I'm sure the NBA is going to be better for it and that makes me feel pretty good.

"I'm very happy with where we are. I'm stepping down at a time when I think the league is in really great shape."

Stern is expected to work with an India charity group to give more than 500,000 children in that nation a chance to play basketball.

"He's a man who is clearly ahead of his time," India-born Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadive told USA Today of Stern. "What he has built in the NBA, it's truly a once-in-a-century platform. He has created what will be a golden era for the NBA."

Ranadive bought the Kings last year for a record price of $535 million.

"He is always one step ahead of everyone else," Ranadive said. "He saw the China opportunity before anyone else did. He saw the globalization opportunity when nobody else did."

Stern has the NBA playing pre-season and regular-season games in Asia and Europe and Latin America and talking of a future European NBA division.

"Most likely if we were to come to Europe it would be with a division rather than a single team for ease of logistics," Stern said.

"We're beginning to take the steps. At some distant point in the future it may result in serious consideration."

For Silver, the plan for now is simple -- stay the course.

"My plan is to listen to the team owners, listen to the players, listen to the partners of the NBA and then be very deliberate about making any changes," Silver said.

"The league is operating at a wonderful state right now so I want to be very cautious about making any changes."

Stern said he has no regrets about leaving and says he wants his legacy to be: "He left the league in a better place than he found it."

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