Not even a year removed from being the longest tenured commissioner in all sports, David Stern is set to receive another accolade in basketball.
As reported by Yahoo! Sports, the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame announced Friday that the former NBA Commissioner is set to be inducted into the 2014 class. This batch includes other notable NBA superstars such as Alonzo Mourning, and Mitch Richmond and NCAA legendary coaches Nolan Richardson and Gary Williams.
He looks back to 30 years of overseeing the sport since the 1980s, an era when championship series were not yet televised and players average a yearly salary of close to $5 million annually, the highest at the time. Thanks to marketable transcendent start such as Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Shaquille O'neal, Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan, the sport has achieved worldwide success and Stern is one the figures who should be lauded for the distinction.
''You can't even do justice to everything that everybody has done,'' Stern said in a phone interview. ''All you can do is focus on small chunks of it, but it's great fun to contemplate how the NBA family has pulled together to be at a place where our players are now at the top of the celebrity period."
While many thought that he would have to wait at least five more years before being named into the Hall of Fame roster, the immediate inclusion of Stern is viewed by many in the basketball community as well deserved given his contributions to the sport. He ended his tenure last February 1st, and his appearance in the ceremonies would be the first time that he would be attending a basketball related activity.
For now, basketball is in good hands with the turning over of the baton to Adam Silver. Stern had nothing but good words for his successor especially the way Silver handled the latest controversy of Donald Sterling with the Los Angeles Clippers. Still, it would take a lot of effort and years to match what Stern had done for the league and the sport in general.
He raised awareness of basketball globally by bringing off season exhibition games to Europe and Asia. During his time, there was a deluge of international players such as Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Pau Gasol who added international flavor to the league. He added two new leagues with the WNBA and the NBA D-League. Most importantly, he boosted revenues to as high as $5 billion annually. The NBA has become an elitist brand that nowadays franchises can be bought at 800 million to almost $1.5 billion upwards.
''You just look at where the game is today, and his fingerprints are all over that. My dad tells me stories all the time of how the league used to be - it was great - but nothing compared to what it is now,'' Golden State All-Star Stephen Curry relays how his father, Dell, describes the imprints of Stern on the game.
Stern maintains that the award is sort of a collective recognition of all the players, coaches, trainers, scouts and owners have worked throughout the years to place basketball in the upper echelon of most recognizable sports in the world today.