David Stern, the man who single-handedly reshaped the future of the NBA and made it a global brand is no more. He died on January 1, 2020, at the age of 77 as a result of a brain haemorrhage he had suffered approximately three weeks ago. The sudden brain haemorrhage required emergency surgery and since then, Stern had not been conscious and was on a breathing tube.

David Stern will always be remembered as the person who in his 30-year tenure as the NBA commissioner turned it into a major league. 

"David took over the NBA in 1984 with the league at a crossroads. But over the course of 30 years as Commissioner, he ushered in the modern global NBA. He launched groundbreaking media and marketing partnerships, digital assets and social responsibility programs that have brought the game to billions of people around the world. Because of David, the NBA is a truly global brand -- making him not only one of the greatest sports commissioners of all time but also one of the most influential business leaders of his generation," said Adam Silver, the current NBA commissioner. "Every member of the NBA family is the beneficiary of David's vision, generosity and inspiration."

As David Stern rests in peace, let’s know a little more about the visionary:

1. He introduced salary caps, making the NBA the first league to do so

The idea may be common today, but until 1985 major sports leagues had never implemented it. When Stern took over as league commissioner, he implemented the salary cap which not only levelled the playing field but also made players and owners partners with its revenue-sharing system.

2. He was the one who ensured that the NBA finals were broadcasted live 

Of the many financially sound decisions Stern made for the NBA, making multiple deals for its finals’ live broadcast was the best one. Earlier, the NBA Finals were recorded and then aired later that night. But Stern signed multiple cable deals- with TBS, CBS, TNT and ABC/ESPN- for network appearances, lending NBA the international exposure it didn’t have before. 

3. He made the NBA the first major sports league in North America to implement a Drug testing policy

He introduced the league’s first drug-testing policy in 1983, recovering the league’s image. Earlier, the news of 40 to 75% of its players being hooked to cocaine had severely damaged the league’s reputation, causing its teams to face major financial losses. 

4. He established WNBA in 1997

Before 1997, American female basketball players couldn’t play domestically as professionals. But with the establishment of WNBA, women are now blessed with opportunities they didn’t have earlier. 

5. The introduction of the draft lottery system

Earlier, teams with the worse win-loss records from the previous season would get the better draft picks, which led teams to lose games deliberately. When Stern became commissioner, he created the concept of the draft lottery, wherein the first three picks would be decided via lottery among all the non-playoff teams, thus putting a stop to teams losing on purpose.