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David Stern's NBA tenure marked by notable progress

Player salaries skyrocketed, the league expanded and the value of teams soared during the commissioner's watch.

October 25, 2012|By Lisa Dillman
  • NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver, left, listens as Commissioner David Stern speaks during a basketball news conference following Board of Governors meetings in New York on Thursday.
NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver, left, listens as Commissioner David… (Kathy Willens / Associated…)

President? King? Commissioner?

Yes, David Stern's accomplishments as NBA commissioner have been significant since he took office in 1984. Here are some signature moments of his tenure, in no particular order:

— The average NBA player salary skyrocketed from $250,000 when Stern took over to $5 million.

— The Dream Team's Olympic participation, starting in 1992 at the Summer Games in Barcelona, Spain. Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan lighted the torch and the legacy has endured, landing in the safe hands of LeBron James and Kobe Bryant in the London Games last summer.

— Impressive league expansion under his watch. There were 23 teams when Stern arrived, and he has added seven franchises in the United States and Canada. Exhibition games have been played in China, Russia and Mexico, and NBA games are telecast in 215 countries.

— Team values have soared. Forbes magazine put the value of the average NBA team at $393 million, an increase of 6.5% from 2011. (The Lakers were valued at $900 million.) The Golden State Warriors sold for a record $450 million two years ago, and for the sake of crazy contrast, the Seattle SuperSonics were purchased for $16 million in 1983, the year before Stern became commissioner.

— TV ratings are at an all-time high. The NBA has gone from a league whose playoff games were once tape-delayed to record-setting viewership on ESPN/ABC, NBA TV and TNT. The broadcast rights are worth $930 million a year to the NBA, from an eight-year agreement negotiated in 2011.

— Explosive growth in the social media community. The NBA is like a small nation with 320 million likes and followers.'s page views during the Finals in 2012 were up 29% and video streams up 62% from the previous years.

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