Legends and luminaries laud David Stern at memorial

Dan Woike, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Basketball

NEW YORK -- The walls were lit basketball orange, matching the crushed velvet seats, the iconic Radio City Music Hall curtain and the magnetic buttons everyone wore on their lapels.

How do you memorialize a life like that of legendary former NBA commissioner David Stern?

You begin, it turns out, with a subtle touch of color choice.

You pack one of the nation's most famous venues with people such as Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Bill Russell and Oscar Robertson. You fill it with NBA coaches and general managers, star agents, announcers and former referees. You make sure old co-workers, people he mentored and berated, were there.

You remember. You cry. You pay tribute and offer condolences. You listen to jazz. You laugh.

You playfully f-bomb.


"That," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said, "was David."

All these people gathered Tuesday afternoon to celebrate the former NBA commissioner, Stern, who died on Jan. 1 after he had a brain hemorrhage in December. He was 77.

Stern oversaw the NBA as it grew into a viable domestic and global product. He negotiated big-money television deals, organized the league offices to include 13 around the world, handled multiple crises and work stoppages, and put a focus on marketing and international exposure.

"So many of us in this room would not have had the same opportunities if it were not for David," Silver said.


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