David Stern to step down as NBA Commissioner Feb. 1, 2014

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Last year at the NBA finals David Stern said he only was going to be on the job for a couple more years. He wasn’t kidding.

David Stern, 70, is stepping down as commissioner of the NBA on Feb. 1, 2014, Timberwolves owner and Chairman of Board of Governors Glen Taylor confirmed on Wednesday.

That will be 30 years to the day of David Stern having led the NBA, and taking a sport that not long before he took over had its finals games shown on tape delay after midnight to dizzying new heights of popularity both nationally and internationally (and steering it to two lockouts on along the way). Stern was not perfect, but he knew how to market a sport as well or better than any pro sports commissioner in history.

“I thought one year for each of the 30 teams in the NBA was about all I could say…” Stern joked about why retiring now. “Things are in great shape, and there’s an orgainization in place, that will ultimately be led by Adam (Silver) that is totally prepared to take it to the next level. I didn’t feel comfortable leaving prior to (negotiating the new) Collective Bargaining Agreement… and this seemed to be a great time….

“Life is a journey and it’s been a spectacular journey. And each step along the way there are things that you have to do, things you wish you hadn’t done, but I don’t keep that list. I’m totally pleased.”

Stern said he plans to stay on, basically as a consultant, to work on special projects. That likely will involve working to grow the game overseas, a passion of his.

Current deputy Commissioner Adam Silver, the NBA’s lead negotiator during the lockout, was unanimously selected by the owners to take his place and negotiations will take place with him Taylor confirmed (the formal approval will come in April). Silver has worked in the league offices for 20 years.

“I told the owners yesterday in executive session, I told them that it’s been a great run, it will continue for another 15 months, that the league is in,” I think, terrific condition…” Stern said. “I like to think I did an adequate job but one of the things I did best was to provide a successor that would be able to take the kind of things we now look at as huge growth opportunities — international, digital, television rights — and have somebody place.”

Stern promised a “smooth transition.” Sterm will stay on past his retirement date as a consultant to work with teams and on international projects.

“Adam’s title will be ‘commissioner elect’ but for the next 15 months they are still going to have me to kick around, working with Adam to assure that the transition, the passing of the baton so to speak, on Feb. 1, 2014 is complete,” Stern said.