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The 13 Worst NBA Moments Under David Stern's Watch

Longtime NBA Commissioner retires from the game, leaving a league that has survived its fair share of trials that we enumerate here.
by Gelo Gonzales | Feb 3, 2014
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David Stern, that guy who announces first-round picks in the NBA Draft, has officially retired from the NBA. He's also the longest-tenured NBA Commissioner in league history, serving for 30 years.

The man who helped guide the basketball league from a struggling enterprise in the '80s whose games were shown on tape delay to a global phenomenon valued at $5 billion stepped down on Saturday, February 1, 2014—30 years after replacing Larry O' Brien as the league's head honcho. Replacing Stern is his top aide, Adam Silver, who up until this point was known to many as that guy who announces players in the second round of the NBA draft.

Stern, in spite of all the hate he's received from players and fans alike, has done tremendous things for the NBA. The numbers don't lie: from 1984 to today, the league has added seven expansion franchises, increased its total TV revenue 40-fold for a total of $1.3 billion has raised the average salary of an NBA player from $250,000 to $5 million, and now has global offices in 15 worldwide markets adding to the very first one in New York which had less than 20 employees.

For all the criticism, David Stern and his three-decade rule is, more or less, Hall-of-Fame worthy, and deserves a clap from everyone who loves what the NBA is today.

Still, Stern's journey from '84 to 2014 has not been 100-percent controversy-free. Under Stern's strict watch, a number of crisis situations did explode from time to time. And here we list some of the biggest. That the league was able to survive these trials is also a testament to the fact that, hey, this Stern guy simply ain't too bad.

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1) The introduction of microfiber basketballs (2006)

In 2006, the NBA and Spalding thought it would be a good idea to replace the old, trusty leather Spalding basketball with a new-fangled "microfiber" ball that won't need a break-in period.

Unfortunately, the actual people that use them hated the darned things. It was too sticky. The feel of the ball was just off, and it sometimes caused cuts on the players' hands.


Just a few months after the balls were introduced, the league rescinded the change and went back to the original balls. This was one of the rare times that Stern listened to the players.

2) Latrell Sprewell chokes his coach, P.J. Carlesimo (1997)

Latrell Sprewell was one of the most explosive players in the game's history...literally. Back when he was playing for the Golden State Warriors, he and his coach got into a scuffle. It ended with Sprewell putting his coach in a chokehold.

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Stern's decision: a 68-game suspension for Spree, setting the table for the consequences that misbehaving players will face.

3) The Great Lock-outs of 1999 and 2011

David Stern has a reputation for not being entirely a player's commissioner, siding more with team owners.

This was on full display during the two times under his reign that work stoppages occurred due to the players' and the owners' inability to agree to contract terms. Fortunately, in these two instances, work resumed before the league had to cancel an entire season—ultimately saving Stern from earning an uglier mark on his resume.

The 1999 season had 50 games while the 2011 season produced 66 matches.

At the very least, the 2011 lockout produced an MVP streetball season for Kevin Durant:


4) Oklahoma nabs Supersonics franchise (2007)

The Seattle Supersonics were one of the pillars of the NBA before it became a global phenomenon, winning the NBA Finals back in 1979.

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