NBA Commish Stern to Step Down in 2014

League boss caps a 30-year run

The National Basketball Association today announced that commissioner David Stern will retire on Feb. 1, 2014, drawing to a close his 30-year tenure.

Stern will be replaced by NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver.

The announcement was made at an NBA Board of Governors meeting in New York, after which Stern made a brief statement to the press.

“It’s been a great run, and it will continue for another 15 months,” Stern said. “The league is in, I think, terrific condition.

“I’d like to think that I did an adequate job, but one of the things I did best was to provide a successor [who] would be able to take the kinds of things that we now look at as huge growth opportunities—international, digital, television negotiations—and have somebody in place with an extraordinary organization that has worked together with him, and with me, to take us even to the next level.”

Silver, who was seated to Stern’s right on the dais, was effusive in his praise for the departing commish.

“I can’t begin to express my gratitude for all the NBA has done for me over the last 20 years and all it has provided me,” Silver said, before turning to address Stern. “I think there’s no doubt that you’ll be remembered as the best of all time, as far as commissioners go. You set the standard … not even just for sports league commissioners but for CEOs in any industry, and it’s been … an honor to have worked for you these past 20 years.”

Stern, who in September celebrated his 70th birthday, became commissioner on Feb. 1, 1984. As the league’s longest-serving commander in chief, he oversaw expansion into the Miami, Charlotte, Vancouver and Minneapolis markets and approved relocations to basketball-crazed towns like Brooklyn, New Orleans and Oklahoma City.

As he embarks on his final 15 months at the helm, the NBA has rebounded from last year’s lockout and is in the best financial shape it’s ever been, with league revenues projected to add up to nearly $5 billion this season.

The NBA is at the midpoint of its eight-year media rights deals with TNT and ESPN/ABC Sports. Turner Sports shells out $485 million per year for its TV and digital package while ESPN/ABC Sports pays $445 million. Both contracts run through 2016.