David Stern's Legacy Extended...On the Ball

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David Stern's Legacy Extended...On the Ball
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

It's a situation the Treasury has always dealt with pretty flawlessly, but it appears the NBA will have an issue: how to transition out a signature on your currency.

The government deals with money, the NBA with basketballs.

This week, Bloomberg’s Scott Soshnick pointed out that the outgoing commissioner David Stern’s signature will have to stay on all league balls for the entire 2013-2014 season.

Incoming commissioner Adam Silver, who takes over around next year’s All-Star Game, won't see his name bouncing on the hardcourt because of the worry of a new ball coming into play during the regular season.

NBA balls need to be broken in for a certain period of time. Otherwise, they can wreak havoc on the deft ball-handling of the NBA’s elite.

Soshnick wrote that Silver will have his signature on NBA balls to begin the 2014-15 season:

Silver-signed basketballs will be used in games and available at retail outlets beginning with the 2014-15 season, at least six months after the leadership change, according to Spalding, a unit of Berkshire Hathaway’s Inc. (BRK/A)’s Fruit of the Loom unit.

In finance, the transition is usually pretty easy. For example, when current Secretary Jack Lew took over for Tim Geitner, new dollars printed that day had his signature—although Lew had to alter it because many deemed it initially illegible.

While Americans love the crisp new dollars, hoopsters apparently don’t like slick new basketballs.

There is precedent for not bringing a new ball in during the season and keeping those ball racks stocked with oldies. The league tried to switch to a more synthetic ball during the 2006-07 season and it was panned by players early in the season, resulting in a return to the original ball.

Does Stern need the ball in play to keep his legacy alive? Probably not.

“What David Stern has done for sports and entertainment in his career will obviously go way beyond his signature on a game ball,” said Chris Lencheski, CEO of Front Row Marketing.

“It will probably be a flawless and seamless transition when Adam takes over, and this will probably be the only little bump in the road as administration changes go. Every league, every company, should have such a smooth move from one group to the next as the NBA will probably have.”

It remains to be seen if Stern, like a Hall of Fame athlete, will have a little farewell soiree at NBA arenas next fall like a retiring athlete would. Stern bobblehead nights in New York? A David Stern Fathead evening in L.A.? Probably not.

But his name will remain on the ball—at least until the players break in a new set the following year.


Jerry Milani is a featured writer at Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand unless noted.

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