Hartman: Stern made his mark with NBA's growth

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 6, 2013 - 11:32 PM

The commissioner, appearing in the Twins Cities on Wednesday, also helped keep the Wolves in Minnesota.

The probable final visit to Minneapolis by NBA Commissioner David Stern, who is retiring next February, brought back the memory of how Stern once blocked the sale of the Timberwolves in 1994 by club owners Marvin Wolfenson and Harvey Ratner for $152.5 million to a New Orleans group led by Top Rank of Louisiana, with the new owners planning to move the team starting with the 1994-1995 season.

And what a job Stern has done turning what was a minor league when he took over in 1984, to a big-time major league sport.

As for Stern keeping the Timberwolves in Minnesota, the sale was made on May 23, 1994, but on June 21, the NBA Board of Governors told Wolfenson and Ratner that they couldn't sell the team to Top Rank.

Had Stern and the NBA not acted, the Wolves would have moved. At the same time Wolfenson and Ratner were in the process of selling Target Center to the state of Minnesota for $42 million.

On Aug. 6, 1994, I wrote in a column that local NBA fans should throw a testimonial dinner for Stern, chief of staff Adam Silver and the relocation committee for sticking their necks out to make sure the Timberwolves remained in Minnesota.

Speaking of that decision, Stern said here Wednesday: "I think that the deal that was raised, suggested that the franchise could be sold and that the NBA Board of Governors wasn't part of the process.

"That's always something that offended me, because my job is to protect the parameters of the Board of Governors, and as I recall, I said, 'Not so fast.' The result was, I think it was [decided in a] federal court here in Minneapolis, but I remember being offended by the process that the buyer thought they could do [that].

"I said, 'No, no, no, I worked too hard to protect the parameters of the board,' and I felt that we had just expanded, I can't remember the year, we had just brought them back in '89, they were here for five years and you come into a market and you say you're going to do everything great and then, all of a sudden, you're gone?"

Eventually on Aug. 5 of that year, the Timberwolves were saved for this area when Glen Taylor and a group of partners bought the club for $90 million.

I have a good idea of what Stern has accomplished since he took over as commisioner in 1984. I helped start the Lakers here in 1947 and ran it along with Max Winter until they were sold to Bob Short in 1957. I also was involved in starting the Chicago Packers (later Zephyrs) as the first modern expansion franchise in 1961 and was involved in running it through 1963, when the team moved to Baltimore, and until it was sold to Abe Pollin in 1964.

Stern has turned over what was a minor-league operation compared to the NFL, NHL and MLB into a fantastic league, with interest spreading all over the world.

Taylor and Stern

One thing that amazed me about Stern is his great relationship with Taylor despite the fact that on Oct . 27, 2000, Stern stripped the team of three first-round draft choices, levied a $3.5 million fine, suspended Taylor and executive Kevin McHale and sent Joe Smith, who was a part of a serious salary-cap violation, into free agency. Still they were able to become close friends, with Taylor recently completing his second term of being chairman of the NBA Board of Governors.

"That didn't stop me from respecting Glen as a businessman and as a person, and I would say that we have become very good friends and we work closely together, with him as chairman," Stern said. "I have enormous respect not only of his business acumen but for his very, very serious concern for this team and its future."

About Taylor having put the team up for sale, Stern said: "He wants it to stay here and all discussions about sale revolve around finding a person, or persons, who will commit to keeping this franchise in the Twin Cities."

About the penalties the Wolves were given in 2000: "I don't think I ever got in a position where we took it personally," Taylor said. "I never took it personally although there were some difficult times there for awhile."

About the job Stern has done, Taylor said: "I just think he sets an example of probably how professional sports needed to evolve. The NBA is a brand not only in the United States but across the world. He has taken us into international markets.

"When David started, I think the average player salary was $250,000. Now the average is $5 million."

The NBA now has 11 offices in cities outside of the United States, is televised in 215 countries in 43 languages, and operates the WNBA and the National Basketball Developmental League under Stern's watch. The growth of the sport has been unbelievable because of Stern, who definitely should be in the Basketball Hall of Fame sooner rather than later.

U football recruits

Yes, the Gophers football team signed only one in-state player in Wayzata linebacker Chris Wipson among the 19 players who inked tenders Wednesday to become future Gophers football players.

There will be criticism about the number of out-of-state players added to the Gopher roster, but there were six players in the entire state of Minnesota who signed with BCS schools.

Of that group, the Gophers seriously recruited only two: the top recruit in the state in James Onwualu of Cretin- Derham Hall, who had his heart set on Notre Dame from day one and, even though he attended the Gophers camp, he wasn't interested in Minnesota. They visited briefly with Cooper defensive back Malik Rucker, but he decided on Iowa.

Another defensive back, Keelon Brookins of Tartan, originally committed to Minnesota, but unfortunately suffered injuries to both knees this past season and played in only three games. He signed with Wisconsin.

The Gophers coaching staff might be wrong about the number of players from Minnesota who will go to the North Dakota and South Dakota schools, but other BCS schools aren't recruiting them, either.

Schroeder makes pros

Former St. Thomas Academy standout Jordan Schroeder of St. Louis Park hasn't scored an official NHL goal yet, but the Vancouver Canucks rookie, who will play here tonight, did score the game-winning goal in a 2-1 shootout victory over Chicago last Friday. Schroeder, who scored 19 points in 30 games with the Chicago Wolves of the AHL this year, has two assists in seven NHL games.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. shartman@startribune.com

  • related content

  • Video: David Stern at Target Center

    Wednesday February 6, 2013

    The NBA commissioner came to Minneapolis on Wednesday and talked before the Wolves game with San Antonio.

  • NBA commissioner David Stern.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Atlanta 6 FINAL
Detroit 4
Philadelphia 3 FINAL
Houston 6
St. Louis 4 FINAL
Miami 1
Baltimore 3 FINAL
Tampa Bay 2
NY Yankees 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh 1
Chicago Cubs 6 FINAL
San Francisco 8
Los Angeles 6 FINAL
Chicago WSox 1
San Diego 4 FINAL
Seattle 9
Cleveland 9 FINAL
Cincinnati 3
Milwaukee 2 FINAL
LA Angels 3
Oakland 2 FINAL
Chicago Cubs 2
Texas 4 FINAL
Kansas City 5
Colorado 3 FINAL
Arizona 4
NY Mets 4 FINAL
Washington 5
Boston 8 FINAL
Minnesota 9
Toronto 0 FINAL
Baltimore 5
Oklahoma City 105 FINAL
Chicago 108
Dallas 75 FINAL
Portland 94
Calgary 4 FINAL(SO)
Boston 3
St. Louis 1 FINAL
Philadelphia 3
Minnesota 2 FINAL
Washington 1
Toronto 2 FINAL
Tampa Bay 4
Dallas 4 FINAL(SO)
Florida 3
NY Islanders 4 FINAL
Nashville 3
Vancouver 2 FINAL(SO)
Arizona 3
Montreal 3 FINAL(SO)
Los Angeles 4
Morgan State 76 FINAL
MD-Eastern Shore 89
Niagara 54 FINAL
Siena 71
Holy Cross 83 FINAL
Bucknell 90
Western Ky 88 FINAL
Charlotte 84
Navy 62 FINAL
Colgate 72
Temple 70 FINAL
East Carolina 56
UAB 59 FINAL
Fla Atlantic 62
Boston Univ 64 FINAL
Lafayette 89
American Univ 68 FINAL
Lehigh 62
Wisconsin 76 FINAL
Minnesota 63
Fairfield 33 FINAL
Saint Peters 63
Arkansas 78 FINAL
South Carolina 74
Morehead State 76 FINAL
UT Martin 65
USC Upstate 63 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 62
Lipscomb 57 FINAL
North Florida 71
Southern Ill 55 FINAL
Missouri State 48
Texas State 64 FINAL
Appalachian St 67
SC State 62 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 72
Delaware State 104 FINAL
Coppin State 92
Middle Tennessee 54 FINAL
FIU 59
Texas-Arlington 64 FINAL
Ga Southern 76
Norfolk State 80 FINAL
Hampton 69
NC A&T 58 FINAL
NC Central 69
Savannah State 57 FINAL
Florida A&M 64
Southern Miss 61 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 72
Marshall 50 FINAL
Old Dominion 67
Rice 76 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 74
South Alabama 81 FINAL
Arkansas State 76
Alabama State 78 FINAL
Grambling St 46
Alabama A&M 54 FINAL
Jackson State 72
Sam Houston St 67 FINAL
Lamar 61
Georgia State 58 FINAL
ULM 50
Central Arkansas 70 FINAL
Nicholls 77
Portland State 51 FINAL
Northern Ariz 58
Southern U 77 FINAL
Prairie View 73
Alcorn State 73 FINAL
Texas Southern 94
Houston Baptist 72 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 85
Ark-Little Rock 69 FINAL
Louisiana 75
SE Louisiana 79 FINAL
New Orleans 85
California 60 FINAL
Arizona 99
Memphis 54 FINAL
Connecticut 53
VA Commonwealth 55 FINAL
Davidson 82
Ark-Pine Bluff 0 Postponed
Miss Valley St 0
Sacramento St 65 FINAL
Southern Utah 69
Northwestern St 66 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 92
North Texas 60 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 83
Colorado 64 FINAL
Washington 47
Idaho 63 FINAL
Weber State 74
Abilene Christian 52 FINAL
Incarnate Word 64
Eastern Wash 85 FINAL
Idaho State 81
Marist 80 FINAL
Quinnipiac 74
Eastern Ill 64 FINAL
Belmont 97
Bradley 52 FINAL
Drake 50
Cal State Fullerton 62 FINAL
UC Irvine 68
CS-Northridge 58 FINAL
Long Beach State 69
UC Riverside 59 FINAL
UC Davis 61
Stanford 62 FINAL
Arizona State 67
Utah 67 FINAL
Washington St 59
Monmouth 68 FINAL
Canisius 56
Wake Forest 85 FINAL
(22) Syracuse 79
Saint Louis 65 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 58
Saint Peters 62 FINAL
Rider 54
UNC-Asheville 51 FINAL
Liberty 59
UNC Greensboro 44 FINAL
(17) Chattanooga 78
Michigan State 69 FINAL
Michigan 49
Arkansas 72 FINAL
Ole Miss 61
Manhattan 51 FINAL
Niagara 57
Massachusetts 63 FINAL
Richmond 67
Virginia 52 FINAL
Miami-Florida 62
Jacksonville St 45 FINAL
Belmont 55
Morgan State 65 FINAL
MD-Eastern Shore 50
Campbell 65 FINAL
Winthrop 52
Furman 65 FINAL
Samford 54
Oregon 64 FINAL
Washington St 66
Indiana 52 FINAL
(23) Rutgers 63
Pepperdine 67 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 68
Auburn 47 FINAL
(18) Texas A&M 57
Morehead St 66 FINAL
Tennessee St 81
George Mason 43 FINAL
Saint Josephs 71
Western Carolina 53 FINAL
East Tenn St 73
Arizona 62 FINAL
UCLA 80
FIU 30 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 79
Texas State 55 FINAL
Appalachian St 61
TX-Arlington 66 FINAL
Georgia Southern 41
SC State 57 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 56
Delaware State 51 FINAL
Coppin State 80
Portland 58 FINAL
Santa Clara 66
Norfolk State 49 FINAL
Hampton 64
Florida Atlantic 56 FINAL
UAB 59
NC A&T 67 FINAL
NC Central 46
Savannah State 72 FINAL
Florida A&M 51
Virginia Tech 51 FINAL
Pittsburgh 45
Central Arkansas 43 FINAL
Nicholls 53
Houston Baptist 48 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 73
Gardner-Webb 70 FINAL
Radford 56
Georgia 75 FINAL
Missouri 64
Old Dominion 67 FINAL
Marshall 55
Ark-Little Rock 68 FINAL
Louisiana 66
South Alabama 60 FINAL
Arkansas State 70
Georgia State 66 FINAL
ULM 61
Sam Houston St 73 FINAL
Lamar 92
SE Louisiana 75 FINAL
New Orleans 84
Northwestern St 45 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 56
Alabama A&M 58 FINAL
Jackson State 66
Alabama State 68 FINAL
Grambling 62
Southern U 78 FINAL
Prairie View 50
Alcorn State 55 FINAL
Texas Southern 73
Ark-Pine Bluff 0 Postponed
Miss Valley St 0
Wofford 54 FINAL
Mercer 75
Abilene Christian 72 FINAL
Incarnate Word 62
La Salle 60 FINAL
Rhode Island 65
Illinois 71 FINAL
Nebraska 86
TX-San Antonio 60 FINAL
Rice 49
Valparaiso 55 FINAL
Oakland 70
Missouri State 65 FINAL
Indiana State 56
Georgia Tech 64 FINAL
(15) North Carolina 84
Charlotte 72 FINAL
Western Ky 80
Texas-El Paso 69 FINAL
North Texas 61
Wichita State 77 FINAL
Evansville 63
Loyola-Chicago 64 FINAL
Northern Iowa 69
Bradley 70 FINAL
Drake 86
Presbyterian 62 FINAL
High Point 75
Vanderbilt 61 FINAL
(12) Kentucky 67
Colorado 75 FINAL
USC 63
San Francisco 74 FINAL
Pacific 64
Idaho State 58 FINAL
Eastern Washington 62
Weber State 42 FINAL
Idaho 71
Purdue 78 FINAL
Minnesota 82
Cal-Irvine 54 FINAL
Cal State Fullerton 66
Long Beach St 60 FINAL
CS-Northridge 77
Hawaii 60 FINAL
UC Santa Barbara 36
UC Davis 56 FINAL
UC-Riverside 61
Northern Ariz 79 FINAL
Portland State 62
Southern Utah 73 FINAL
Sacramento St 107
Utah 64 FINAL
Washington 75
BYU 65 FINAL
St Marys-CA 64

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who is doing the best job coaching a Minnesota pro sports team?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close