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What NBA greats and others are saying about David Stern

The NBA announced that former commissioner David Stern died at age 77 as the result of a brain hemorrhage he suffered on December 12, 2019.

Posted: Jan 2, 2020 7:40 AM
Updated: Jan 2, 2020 7:40 AM

The NBA was a far different league when David Stern took over as commissioner in 1984.

For instance, there wasn't a Canadian franchise among the league's 23 teams.

The salary cap was less than $4 million.

Some playoff games were shown on tape delay, not live.

With Stern guiding the league, and with superstars Larry Bird, Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson wowing crowds, the NBA became global brand.

Stern's death Wednesday brought a flood of tributes from NBA greats and others influenced by Stern the commissioner and Stern the man.

Here is a sampling of the reaction:

Bill Russell, an 11-time NBA champion and Hall of Famer, tweeted:

"I can not put into words what the friendship of David Stern has meant to me but many others. He changed so many lives. David was a great innovator and made the game we love what it is today. This is a horrible loss. Our hearts are with Dianne & their family. RIP my friend. @NBA"

Jordan released a statement through his publicist.

"Without David Stern, the NBA would not be what it is today. He guided the league through turbulent times and grew the league into an international phenomenon, creating opportunities that few could have imagined before. His vision and leadership provided me with the global stage that allowed me to succeed. David had a deep love for the game of basketball and demanded excellence from those around him -- and I admired him for that. I wouldn't be where I am without him. I offer my deepest sympathies to Dianne and his family."

Johnson, on Twitter, recalled working with Stern.

"I remember one of my meetings with David in his NYC office working with him to improve the overall NBA and All Star Weekend," Johnson wrote. "It was very special that he asked me and we were able to collaborate and make improvements."

In another tweet, he wrote: "David Stern was such a history maker. When I announced in 1991 I had HIV, people thought they could get the virus from shaking my hand. When David allowed me to play in the 1992 All Star Game in Orlando and then play for the Olympic Dream Team, we were able to change the world."

Bird, the Boston Celtics legend who later was head coach and president of the Indiana Pacers, said Stern's "brilliance, vision, fairness and hard work" had a far-reaching impact.

"When you think of all that he accomplished worldwide on behalf of thousands of players, so many fans, all of the jobs he created for team and arena employees and all of the people that benefitted from the many layers of growth in the sport and industry that David spearheaded and then passed on to others, there is no doubt Commissioner Stern lifted the NBA to new heights and he will be greatly missed by all of us," Bird said in a statement posted on Twitter.

National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman said Stern helped him in his job.

"He was a man of great vision and energy who is responsible for the operational and business advancements that created the modern sports industry," Bettman said on Twitter. "David taught me how to be a commissioner and, more importantly, how to be a good person."

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell had similar thoughts about Stern.

"David was a driving force in sports for decades and helped the NBA soar to new heights around the world," he said in a statement. "I called him the dean of commissioners, not only for his longevity and his vision for the NBA, but for his willingness to offer advice when I first started as NFL commissioner.

Scottie Pippen, who won six NBA titles with Jordan on the Chicago Bulls, called it a "very sad day."

He tweeted that Stern was "kind, thoughtful and almost always the smartest person in the room. He was an innovator who helped grow our sport into a global game and his impact will never be forgotten."

Pau Gasol, who shook the commissioner's hand at the 2001 draft and who won two NBA titles, also counted Stern as a friend.

"Today the #NBAFamily lost a legend, a leader that changed our game for the better. A father, a husband, a friend. RIP #DavidStern, you will forever be missed," he wrote.

Shaquille O'Neal said no other league had a better leader.

"The best commissioner to ever do it," he tweeted.

Sportswriter John Feinstein said Stern was a top-notch executive.

"Awful news about David Stern. He was a great commissioner--a better man. I was fortunate to know him well--even though he CONSTANTLY told me I was wrong about things," he wrote on Twitter.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 455783

Reported Deaths: 6166
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin945441502
Ramsey40698749
Dakota33623354
Anoka31398368
Washington20579237
Stearns18111190
St. Louis14006251
Scott1221199
Wright11811107
Olmsted1083075
Sherburne831270
Carver705639
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Rice624774
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Blue Earth549533
Crow Wing490678
Otter Tail464968
Chisago460438
Benton423788
Winona394948
Douglas379766
Nobles374847
Mower374429
Goodhue358163
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McLeod328647
Beltrami316148
Morrison314645
Lyon306139
Becker289439
Itasca287843
Isanti286143
Carlton284443
Steele279510
Pine270515
Freeborn254723
Todd233730
Nicollet230538
Brown218634
Mille Lacs215745
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Iowa Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 312194

Reported Deaths: 4433
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Polk46975465
Linn18114279
Scott15900172
Black Hawk14123243
Woodbury13145181
Johnson1231752
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Pottawattamie9182115
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Wapello351798
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Bremer250448
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Boone223517
Benton213950
Mahaska198637
Jackson195332
Tama190959
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Kossuth180944
Delaware176536
Clay173021
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Butler152324
Page148115
Floyd141936
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Mills138517
Lyon137933
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Allamakee131530
Iowa128022
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Jefferson122425
Winnebago122329
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