And what he wants now is for the Association to re-establish its roots in Seattle.
So that's what the NBA is going to get.
Because according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, Stern is "determined" put an NBA franchise back in Seattle:
Between now and his departure, Stern is determined to get a franchise back into Seattle, league sources said. He has become a strong ally of Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer's group to bring back the NBA there. Ballmer's group has been trying to get the Maloof family to sell the Sacramento Kings, so that the franchise can eventually play in a new arena in Seattle.
For all the conflicting points of view surrounding Stern, his retirement and his legacy, there's no denying that his will is ultimately inevitable.
He was the driving force behind the league purchasing the New Orleans Hornets in 2010; he was determined to keep the team in New Orleans.
And so they stayed.
This is no different. Stern has 15 months before his legacy is written in stone, and he wants to ensure that he goes out on a high note, goes out knowing that he righted a wrong, that he rewrote a piece of history that should have never been written in the first place.
Or that he at least began to.
Which brings us to Adam Silver, Stern's successor and an extension of Stern himself.
The same Silver who Stern has "carefully cultivated" as his replacement.
The same Silver who will continue to emulate everything Stern stood for and believed in long after he is gone.
And the same Silver who will ensure the NBA is brought back to Seattle should Stern's tenure expire before he has the chance to actualize such a move himself.
Because what Stern wants, Silver wants.
And again, what Stern wants is to correct his greatest failure, to rekindle a relationship he couldn't prevent from souring nearly five years ago.
Try as Stern might, he couldn't impose his will back then. The Seattle SuperSonics were bleeding dollar signs and the inception of a new arena was imperative, yet hopeless.
But that was then.
Seattle has now agreed on a plan to build a new arena and the market, just like that of Oklahoma City then, is blanketed with potential.
Even better, there is currently another dying franchise worthy of being dismantled, this time in the form of the Sacramento Kings.
This is Stern's shot at redemption, his chance to do for Seattle what he did for New Orleans, his chance to do what he didn't five years ago.
And it's Silver's chance to help facilitate a move his mentor has pined for, his chance to prove himself to the man who has cleared his path to the commissioner's podium, his chance to prove that like Stern, he, and the NBA, will get what he wants.
So this is more than just business—it's personal.
It's about Stern finishing what he started, about Silver furthering it longer after he's finished, about this dynamic duo cementing their place in history as the most innovative and unstoppable front office force this side of the merger.
And, most importantly, it's about Stern reasserting the control he has never yielded, even when powerhouses began forming, even when the Association's existence was ripped from the state of Washington and thrust into the hands of Oklahoma.
Which means the NBA is headed back to Seattle.
Because from three decades worth of absolute rule, to a protracted, incentivized retirement, to Silver himself, Stern has yet to not get what he wants.