×

Athletes, Sports Executives Send Off David Stern at Memorial Service

A massive audience filled with some of the NBA’s greatest players and the sports industry’s top executives bid farewell to David Stern at a poignant ceremony that focused less on the sport and more on the former NBA Commissioner’s work to make the league more inclusive.

“It is clear everyone has a story about David Stern,” said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, holding forth at a convocation Monday at New York’s Radio City Music Hall. Various people who sent him comments showed that Stern, known for a relentless drive to push the basketball league into new frontiers, contained multitudes. Stern was described as “tireless,” “tough, “tender” and “cantankerous.”  Silver, who noted Stern’s penchant for “micromanagement” and “the relentless pursuit of perfection,” said his predecessor “relished a challenge” but “always kept it fun.”

Stern is credited with taking the NBA into new lines of business, setting up the WNBA and bringing the league to prominence in overseas markets. Under his aegis, the NBA added seven new teams, expanding to 30 overall. He died January 1 in New York, after suffering a brain hemorrhage.

A crowd of hundreds filled the space, with NBA greats Bill Russell and Yao Ming among those in attendance. The New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers, slated to play each other Wednesday in New York, cancelled practice so players could attend the ceremony.

Stern’s famously intense business personality was not ignored. Val Ackerman, the first president of the WNBA who is now commissioner of the Big East conference, told the story of being summoned to Stern’s office as a younger executive, left to wonder what she might have done wrong (Stern only wanted to give her a new role working for him more directly). Every piece of fan mail delivered in an era before email communication had to have a response, she recalled. Sports, Stern told her, were “built one fan at a time.” Jazz great Wynton Marsalis described Stern as “pure caring” that was enveloped in “vinegar.”

Earvin “Magic” Johnson took to the stage for an emotional speech recalled how Stern stood behind him after he revealed in 1991 publicly that he had contracted HIV. “My commissioner turned into my angel,” said Johnson, noting that Stern made it possible for him to take part in the NBA’s 1992 All-Star Game. “I will miss my angel.”

Marsalis also honored Stern with a speech that emphasized how much larger the executive was than the sport that he led. “”You thought that he was one thing,” said the musician. “But he was something else altogether.”

More Biz

  • United States President Barack Obama (L)

    Barack Obama on Kobe Bryant's Death: 'Nothing Is More Heartbreaking'

    President Barack Obama spoke about the heartbreaking deaths of Kobe Bryant, his daughter, Gianna, and the seven other victims of the shocking helicopter crash last month. “That loss is something that I know many are still grappling with — particularly, Kobe, because he was with his daughter and those families and those children. And those [...]

  • Kobe Bryant Dead

    How to Get Tickets to the Kobe and Gianna Bryant Memorial Service

    The Los Angeles Lakers have announced that fans that wish to attend the public memorial of Kobe and Gianna Bryant can register for tickets online beginning Friday. The memorial will take place at 10 a.m. on Feb. 24 at Los Angeles’ Staples Center. Kobe and Gianna Bryant were among the nine killed in a helicopter [...]

  • R Kelly Sexual Assult Accusations Mugshot

    R. Kelly Hit With New Charges Alleging Sexual Abuse Against a Minor

    R. Kelly has been hit with new federal charges in Chicago, alleging that he sexually abused a minor female for four years, beginning in 1997, according to the Chicago Tribune. The superseding indictment, which was made public Friday, alleged Kelly sexually abused a girl who was identified as “Minor 6.” Kelly is already in prison [...]

  • ViacomCBS

    Third Point Adds Stakes in ViacomCBS and Amazon

    Investor Dan Loeb has added small stakes in ViacomCBS and Amazon to the portfolio of his Third Point LLC investment firm during the final months of 2019. Third Point disclosed in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing on Thursday its ownership of shares in the newly merged Redstone empire and the high-flying e-commerce behemoth. Loeb [...]

  • Plume of black smoke rising from

    Universal Music Denies Accusation That It Is Downplaying Damage in 2008 Archive Fire

    The day after Universal Music Group revealed that it is planning an IPO within three years, an attorney for four artists who have claimed to have lost recordings in a 2008 fire that destroyed thousands of assets in the company’s archives has accused UMG of “gamesmanship” and downplaying and refusing to reveal the extent of [...]

  • Eric Braeden celebrates his 40th Anniversary

    TV Iron Man Eric Braeden Marks 40 Years on 'Young and the Restless'

    If not for a tennis game with actor Dabney Coleman in the late 1970s, Eric Braeden might never have landed his signature role as conniving business mogul Victor Newman on CBS’ “The Young and the Restless.” Braeden, 78, has become an Iron Man of daytime soaps who will mark his 40th anniversary on “Y&R” with [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content