In what can only be described as the most shocking news of the offseason, NBA commissioner David Stern has announced his pending retirement (via ESPN.com). Stern will step down on February 1, 2014, thus appointing deputy commissioner Adam Silver as his heir apparent.
For those keeping track, Stern will step down on the 30-year anniversary of his first being appointed as NBA commissioner.
In that time, Stern has brought the NBA from virtual obscurity to a level of unforeseen global popularity. For that reason, heir apparent Silver will have gigantic shoes to fill as the leader of the National Basketball Association.
Can he fill them?
While that question cannot yet be answered, what is clear is that Silver must avoid tarnishing the imprint Stern has left on the NBA. In order to do so, Silver must avoid the fatal mistakes that will be outlined in the following slides.
What David Stern did for the NBA was make the league a global enterprise. The international fan market is entirely a product of Stern's work, as is the rapid growth of the NBA on a domestic level.
What's most significant about this fact is that the NBA did not require the placement of advertisements on jerseys. As we admire iconic photographs of LeBron James hugging his first career NBA championship, we do not have to see "McDonald's" pasted across his chest.
Brand names would tarnish the memories being created by NBA players. If Adam Silver allowed sponsors to place their logos on jerseys, he would be directly responsible for the unraveling of an outstanding financial legacy.
There's no better way to ruin David Stern's memory than to place the Subway logo next to the NBA Finals patch.
One of the most significant actions that David Stern has taken over the past four decades has been expanding the NBA from 23 to 30 teams. In the span of 28 years as commissioner, Stern has created seven new franchises and relocated a total of five.
If Adam Silver were to step in and begin to eliminate franchises in the spirit of increasing population, he'd severely damage the widespread popularity of the league. Although there are multiple franchises in states such as California, Texas and New York, each touches upon a different demographic.
Although the amount of bottom-feeding franchises would decrease, the opportunities for both fans and prospective players to find a team they can either connect with or play for would as well.
No matter how tempting it may be to increase the competitive nature of the NBA, decreasing the amount of NBA franchises would tarnish what Stern worked so hard to achieve. The expansion of the league to 30 teams symbolizes how far they have come in terms of popularity.
Although unlikely, contraction is a path that Silver could take en route to tarnishing what Stern has done for the NBA.
One of the greatest feats of David Stern's legendary tenure as commissioner is how he has brought the NBA to live television. Although Adam Silver is almost certain to never change that, there is room to make mistakes on the most important aspect of the NBA's television appearances.
Negotiating with the wrong networks and shortchanging either side of the deal.
The NBA has been working with TNT since 1988. Most recently, the cable broadcasting giant has brought the league extraordinary popularity due to their pre- and postgame show panel of Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith, Charles Barkley and Shaquille O'Neal.
Should the worst-case scenario transpire and the NBA no longer work with TNT, the league would lose what is arguably the most popular postgame show on television. Although this may seem meaningless, ratings are everything.
Without them, the league loses a significant amount of revenue and their international and domestic exposure is damaged. After everything Stern has done to build the NBA up as a global powerhouse, it'd be quite shameful to turn back on said success in any way.
Maintain the proper cable television deals and work to create greater exposure on network TV.
What type of attention would Team USA have drawn without LeBron and the stars? Most importantly, what type of success would they have found?
This past Summer, David Stern suggested a concept of International basketball being limited to players under the age of 23 (via ESPN.com). For the sake of Stern's legacy, soon-to-be appointed commissioner Adam Silver cannot pursue said rule change.
Keep in mind, it was Stern who orchestrated the 1992 Dream Team and created the global phenomenon that the NBA has become.
Fortunately for Silver, FIBA chief Patrick Baumann has already stated that no age limit will exist in 2016 (via ESPN.com). An alteration to the rules cannot transpire for at least four more years.
Now he just needs to make sure it doesn't happen any time after that.
Now, I should make it clear that I am in full support of a younger initiative for international basketball. The fact of the matter is, it is the NBA's star power that creates such extraordinary attention on the international competitions.
To remove the American superstars would be to eliminate the hype surrounding the games.
For the sake of competition, the games would be better if the under-23 initiative were taken. Outcomes would be closer, doubt would exist and interest in the process of winning the gold medal could potentially rise.
As soon as one American team fails, however, future generations will be marred by complaints of the lack of stars.
One of David Stern's most infamous creations is the NBA draft lottery. Stern implemented the strategic process of establishing the draft order in 1985 and honed it to its current state in 1990.
If Adam Silver is hoping to eliminate the memories of his predecessor, a great place to start would be to eliminate the controversial process.
For some, the lottery offers excitement and welcomed anxiety. Each non-playoff team has a weighted chance at the first overall draft choice, with their chances at winning the top pick adjusted based off of their win-loss record.
The worse your record, the better your odds.
For others, it is a process that is detrimental to the teams that are actually in need of improvement. Take the 2012 Charlotte Bobcats for instance, who set an NBA record for the worst win percentage of all time at .106 after going 7-59.
Unfortunately, it was the 21-45 New Orleans Hornets who won the top draft choice.
Regardless of which stance you take on the issue, there's no way around how significant the draft lottery has been to the landscape of the NBA. The direction of a franchise can change in one moment by winning this process.
Will Silver let it stand?