David Stern handed over the reigns of the NBA to Adam Silver back in February. The former commissioner's impact on the league was immense and his efforts will be rewarded when he gets inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press spoke with Stern ahead of the enshrinement ceremony, which is set for Friday. He was quick to distribute credit to all of those he worked with to help globalize the league over the years rather than accept individual recognition.
"You can't even do justice to everything that everybody has done," Stern said. "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.
"Pretty, pretty amazing and great."
A debate will probably rage on about how much of the NBA's growth can be attributed to Stern and how much was luck falling his way. Taking over in an era where Michael Jordan was among several big-name superstars to elevate the league certainly helped his cause.
Yet, there's no doubt Stern left the league in much better shape when he left than it was in upon his arrival two decades ago. He was the guiding hand throughout the process and did a good job of getting Silver, who's handled the Donald Sterling situation very well, prepared for the position.
NBA.com provided some numbers to showcase how far the league has come:
The addition of seven franchises really highlights Stern's success. Creating seven different sustainable fanbases in less than 20 years while also keeping all of the other ones in tact or relocating to an area where they could succeed is a tricky task.
Although Stern had his fair share of detractors over the years, history will probably be more kind to his legacy than current evaluations. The numbers speak for themselves, even if you factor in the luck of the superstar era led by Jordan.
He also talked with the AP about what the honor means to him.
"To me, it's a very important award, a recognition by your peers in a sport where you spent your adult life working," he said. "[It's] at the top of the chart in terms of the way it makes you feel and the recognition of it."
Stern will enter the Hall of Fame on Friday as part of a group that also includes Alonzo Mourning, Mitch Richmond, Nolan Richardson and Gary Williams, among others.
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