Commissioner David Stern Leaving the NBA at a Crossroads

Jonathan CullenSenior Writer IOctober 25, 2012

David Stern plans to retire in 2014
David Stern plans to retire in 2014Jerry Lai-US PRESSWIRE

The NBA announced today that commissioner David Stern would be retiring come February of 2014.

My first thought: It's time.

My second thought: Maybe things will get better.

The NBA's 2013 season opens with four teams having a legitimate shot at the title this year, something even the league's general managers acknowledge.

Four teams.

If you are a season ticket holder in Memphis or Cleveland or New Orleans or Phoenix, why are you buying season tickets? If you are a fan of one of the other 26 franchises in the NBA, why are you going to games or buying player jerseys?

If you are a fan of the Orlando Magic, do you think that you can trust David Stern? First Shaq left and now Dwight Howard.

The NBA is a players' league that continues to let the players call the shots with almost no repercussion for their behavior.

Don't like your team? OK. Just pout long enough before the team trades you for 30 cents on the dollar. Ask people in Seattle or Sacramento what they think of the NBA.

He hasn't always protected the league. At times, he has enabled petulant owners and childish players to believe that they are more important than the game and bigger than the league.

Officiating during the playoffs always seems to cause a certain level of frustration for fans of the game.

The NBA draft almost encourages teams to have a terrible season in order to get a better player. You have to get really bad in order to get better. Once you finally get a good player, you have to hope you can win while you have them.

You could understand the frustration from Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert when LeBron James left to go to Miami, even if both parties handled it very poorly. It could cripple the Cleveland franchise and potentially take years to recover.

There have been many positive things that have occurred on Stern's watch. The league has expanded, revenues have increased, the television presence has grown in almost every market and the league has gone global.

The NBA has embraced the Olympics as international marketing worth its weight in gold. The star players have recently reinvested themselves to promoting the game by showing the rest of the world that basketball is America's game.

David Stern's ledger is filled on both sides from his almost 30-year term as the NBA Commissioner. Lately it seems to have been filling up on the wrong side.

Having a new leader for the NBA might be exactly what the league needs, someone who can make things more inclusive and less exclusive, where every team has a equal chance at success.