HOUSTON — David Stern addressed the media at the Toyota Center on Saturday, and being that this is his last All-Star weekend as NBA commissioner, some of the questions asked him to reflect on his time working for the league over the last 30-plus seasons.
One of his more poignant responses came when the topic of his favorite All-Star memory was broached.
“Well, this is my 37th All‑Star,” Stern said. “The first was 1976 in Philadelphia. And I would have to say my favorite memory actually compounded and growing to the present day is awarding Magic Johnson the MVP trophy in Orlando.”
Magic announced his retirement from the NBA on November 7, 1991, after a preseason physical revealed he had contracted the HIV virus. The fans voted him into the All-Star game, however, and although there was some controversy surrounding his playing with the ailment at the time, the league allowed him to participate.
Later in the press conference, when Stern was asked about the possibility of the All-Star game someday returning to Cleveland, he was reminded of another one of his favorite moments.
“One of the great moments, I think, after Magic hitting that last three‑point shot was the presentation of The 50 Greatest on the floor [in 1997],” he said.
“As the executive producer of that moment, I would like to say that that is a close second, but not quite [my favorite],” Stern said. “To get those 49 guys, and we knew it was the last time we were ever going to get them together like that, and to put them in effect a uniform, through a jacket of the team that they represented, that was a big thrill, too.”
The show Johnson put on, however, especially in the final few minutes, was extremely powerful. Stern said the memory remains one that he’ll cherish forever.
“Giving sweaty Magic Johnson a big hug right after he hit the last three and still being able to hug him, because he’s alive every time I see him,” Stern said. “That is at the top of the list. And it will not easily be dislodged. Even though I do enjoy every All‑Star, that one will resonate for the rest of my life.”