Bettman On Stern: “David Was A Visionary”

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman dropped by CBS Sports Radio to reflect on former friend and colleague David Stern, who passed away Wednesday at the age of 77

Zach Gelb
January 03, 2020 - 8:54 am
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NHL commissioner Gary Bettman dropped by CBS Sports Radio on Thursday to reflect on former friend and colleague David Stern, who passed Wednesday at the age of 77.

“David was a visionary, he had incredible energy, and he’s actually, I believe, the one responsible for transforming and modernizing the sports industry and the way that sports leagues are run,” Bettman said on The Zach Gelb Show. “For me personally, for the 12 years I was at the NBA, I probably spent more time with him than anybody else in the world, including my family. He was really a great role model as commissioner, and he always stood for trying to do the right things. Those are lessons that you never forget, and they’re probably among the most important lessons in life.”

Bettman, 67, became NHL commissioner in 1993 and has held the position for more than a quart of a century. He still has a few years to go to catch Stern, who served as NBA commissioner for 30 years, from 1984 to 2014.

“David taught me a lot,” Bettman said. “I’m not sure I could have imagined that I’d be going on to be running a league myself, but the lessons I learned from David were invaluable in enabling me not just to get this job, but to do it.”

Stern, of course, transformed the NBA from a regional league to a global one.

“David stood for excellence,” Bettman said. “He was a people person. He knew how to motivate and work with people. He had dreams and visions, and he worked hard to fulfill them. Anything that you do requires hard work if you want to be successful, and David could outwork anybody.”