The entire basketball world received terrible news on New Year’s Day, as it was announced that former NBA Commissioner David Stern had passed away. He had been hospitalized since December 17th after suffering a brain hemorrhage.
In his 77 years of life, he spent 30 of those as NBA Commissioner (1984-2014), also spending the previous eight years before that as general counsel for the league. He passed away as a Hall of Famer, being credited with helping turn the NBA into the global phenomenon it is today. Other than helping oversee the NBA’s impressive transformation over his 30 years as Commissioner, he also helped start the WNBA as well as the NBA G League.
Many Lakers of old and new remembered Stern’s legacy on the day of his passing. Here are a few of those instances:
The most notable of the reactions from former Lakers was from, of course, Earvin “Magic” Johnson. Magic Johnson had a special relationship with Stern, as Stern oversaw the NBA during Magic’s announcement of being HIV positive in 1991. Below is Magic’s tweet referencing that, but be sure to check out all of Magic’s tweets about Stern, as you can really tell Magic had immense respect for the man.
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.
— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) January 1, 2020
Someone who’s associated with the Lakers organization that knew Stern as long as Magic did is Lakers owner, Jeanie Buss. She put out an official statement out commending Stern, saying that her father, Dr. Jerry Buss, told her to seek guidance from Stern if she ever needed it.
Lakers owner Jeanie Buss on the death of former NBA commissioner David Stern: pic.twitter.com/s0my2dN9Hy
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) January 2, 2020
Many players received the pleasure of being able to walk across the NBA Draft stage and shake Stern’s hand after he called their names. In fact, over 30 years of being the Commissioner, Stern would have shaken upwards of over 1000 players’ hands as their basketball dreams were realized. Many Lakers players shared their thoughts and condolences about Davis Stern, including Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and Danny Green.
The game changed in so many ways under David Stern’s leadership and vision. He demanded the best of everyone because he gave it himself. #Respect Thank you Commissioner. RIP 🙏🏾 pic.twitter.com/veT9GQfrdC
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) January 1, 2020
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I will never EVER forget when you called my name on stage and I shook your hand. My dream came true!!! Thank you for your commitment to the beautiful game of basketball that has changed so many young adult/kids lives and more importantly your vision to make our game become WORLDWIDE was a vision only you could make happen! You did just that. Making our game the greatest sport in the world! Was a honor to know you personally. Rest In Paradise David Stern! My prayers goes to your family and friends throughout this difficult time! 🙏🏾💪🏾👑
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Your legacy will live on forever. The impact you’ve had on growing this game and reaching the youth all over the world was truly extraordinary. I’m thankful to have known you and to be playing this beautiful game that you pioneered in every way. My deepest condolences to the Stern family, forever in our hearts. 🙏🏽
You can see throughout the league that David Stern had not only a wide, macro impact on the NBA, but that he also had a personal impact on the individuals the worked in the NBA.
He’ll be sorely missed by us here at Lakers Outsiders, as well as anyone who has been a fan of basketball in the past half-century.