Monday, February 3, 2014

The Impact of David Stern

O.K. I know the Super Bowl just ended, but let's be honest it wasn't really that entertaining with a 43-8 beat down and with the most lack luster performance of Super Bowl commercials in a long time, what is the point in wasting space on the internet to speak about it? The one real question for Seattle fans outside of when the parade is (Wednesday February 5th, 11 am) when will the Sonics come back? Adam Silver will get them back if he knows whats best about business. First though, lets get back to the impact David Stern had on the NBA.

You can name all the negatives that David Stern had throughout his career (Having the Sonics leave Seattle the way he had it happen, implementing ping pong balls to decide many NBA teams fate in the draft, and adding a dress code that only made the NBA more transparent to the rest of the demographic in the sport) but there have also been a ton of positives. Since David Stern took over in 1983, the NBA went from being a stabilizing business nightmare to a global phenomenon that has become one of the most popular sports in the world. You can't measure his impact alone in America like you can football or baseball, but if you dig deeper into the impact he has made across the globe in places that were once soccer strict countries (many south america countries) that are now basketball driven countries, that was all based upon the marketing of guys like Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, and Shaq. The way he marketed them he made them seem larger than the game, like superheros, like giants among men. That marketing strategy led them to be viewed across the planet as individuals who could brand the sport in way never done before and make the streets of Shanghai look like the streets of New York where every kid is picking up a basketball instead of picking up a school robe. Not that I advise that, but that is a huge impact for international countries.

He made small market clubs have the opportunity to expand when in the past the room to grow seem insurmountable. It also doesn't help when the league before the 1980's didn't have to buzz around it that David was so lucky to get with the hype of Magic and Bird. Now when you are given a gift, all you can do is take it as far as you can, and when David Stern was given the gift of Magic and Bird, he took it to China, the Moon, Mars, and back. You know your sport thrives when guys like Larry Bird are getting more press than a guy like Oscar Robertson (who played in the 1960's). That's not to rip on Larry Bird who was incredible but Oscar is on a whole other level. That's what David Stern did, he made insignificant players more important and over time, put a ton more money in their pockets which nobody can deny.

At the end of the day, being a big wig sports commissioner your goal is to make more money. He did that. He improved a brand so globally that only soccer can compete, and with the talent that came into the NBA over the past 30 years, his branding strategy was spot on. With where the league will go from here, I personally hope the NBA brands more in a team format with Adam Silver at the helm. On the whole, David Sterns impact has been so great, it really cannot be put into words how great of a job he really did. The sport will miss you David, and you have left the NBA in a better place then when you got it.

I'll see you next week!

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