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Stern, David


STERN, DAVID (1942– ), U.S. basketball executive, fourth commissioner of the nba. Born and raised in the Chelsea section of Manhattan, Stern worked his way through school at his father's deli, near Madison Square Garden, which was open six days a week and closed only on the Jewish High Holidays. Stern was a passionate sports fan and developed his love for basketball and the skills and ease of dealing with the public while serving the diverse deli customers. After studying at Rutgers University and Columbia Law School, Stern noted: "Others talk about working as clerks for Supreme Court justices or federal judges, but I enjoy saying that my first clerk-ship was at Stern's Delicatessen." From the time he joined the legal firm of Proskauer and Associates in 1966 to his appointment as nba legal counsel in 1978, Stern dedicated almost all his professional activities to nba work. As an nba executive, Stern was determined to radically renovate the league's image tainted by public perceptions of drug abuse, lazy work ethics, and astronomic salaries. Stern played a major role in changing popular perceptions in the early 1980s via two milestone agreements with the nba Player's Association: drug testing, and instituting team salary caps. His tenure as commissioner, starting in 1984, reflects the unprecedented success of the nba. In particular, the league's appeal to a young audience increased not only in the U.S. but also worldwide. The pinnacle achievement of this international enthusiasm was the unprecedented decision to include nba players on the U.S. basketball "Dream Team" at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992. Highlighting the skills of stars such as Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, and Michael Jordan helped the nba achieve not only equality with other American professional sports, but even seemingly to surpass them. nba players were now the most famous athletes in the world, appealing to an international audience and starring in commercials all over the globe. Additional achievements by Stern include the expansion of the nba to 30 teams (2005); the opening of international offices; the creation of the Women's National Basketball Association in 1997; and the 1999 launch of tv, a 24-hour digital network. Stern also serves on the boards of numerous public institutions including Columbia University, Beth Israel Medical Center, and the naacp, and is a contributor to various charities, including the United Jewish Appeal.


D. Halberstam, Playing For Keeps; Michael Jordan and the World He Made (1999).

[Yitzchak Mais (2nd ed.)]

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