David Stern will step down as Commissioner of the NBA on February 1 2014, exactly 30 years after taking over the job, passing the baton on to his chosen successor Adam Silver.

His decision to retire was confirmed at the league’s Board of Governors meeting in New York, starting the countdown to the end of a hugely significant era in North American sport.

Silver, who has served as his deputy since 2006, was appointed by the owners in a unanimous decision but will have a tough act to follow.

Although Stern has presided over two work stoppages and often went up against his players and fans, he has also seen the NBA expand both domestically and overseas, proving a critical figure in growing the international game through its evolution from the amateur into the professional age.

His long-held dream of expansion into Europe was never realised. But there have been enough accomplishments to write a favourable review in the history books.

“It’s been a great run,” he said. “The league is in, I think, terrific condition.I’d like to think I did an adequate job.

“But one of the things I did best was provide a successor. I’m not going any place in the next 15 months. But this gives us the opportunity to have a very smooth transition.”

70-year-old Stern – who first became a league attorney in 1966 – oversaw the league’s growth from semi-obscurity, with seven new franchises added, a 30-fold increase in revenues, globalisation and the launch of two leagues, the Women’s National Basketball Association and the NBA Development League.

Now Silver, 50, will have a firm date to take over at the helm. But he already has experience of leading 2011’s labour negotiations, as well as taking much of the credit for heading the NBA’s digital expansion in recent years.

“Adam is a world-class business executive who has influenced so many areas of our business during his tenure with the NBA,” Stern said.

“I am pleased that the Board has chosen him as my successor and I know the NBA will be in very good hands.”


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