David Stern, that lauded champion of the advancement of international and domestic basketball and/or the conniving, despicable dullard that over the course of three decades systemically destroyed the NBA and all it stands for, is retiring today. SBNation sites are posting their various polemics and tributes to his career, and I'd highly recommend this piece from Ziller.
You'll notice it includes two moments from Charlotte/New Orleans Hornets/Pelicans history -- what Stern did to relocate the team following Katrina and make sure it found its way home and, of course, what Stern did to force Chris Paul to wear the different colors of the same city. Between those two things alone, Stern had as much impact on the franchise as any single player or front office member the team has ever employed; then there's also the matter of his ensuring that a local New Orleans owner take over from George Shinn. It's no real surprise that New Orleans fans likely look at Stern in quite a different light than those of many other teams.
As far as Stern's other endeavors go? I'm not well versed enough in the finances to make conclusive statements on, well, a lot of things. I will say though that I was always a fan of two of his initially losing endeavors. The first was the spread of the NBA globally, which is of course far from a losing prospect now. The second was the creation of the WNBA, which is likely still a financial drain, but one that I firmly believe in from the perspective of bringing gender equality to sports. Stern stuck with it through turbulence and continues to.
As far as the Pelicans go? Anthony Davis wouldn't be here without Stern's involvement; it's more accurate to say the possibility of Davis on the Pelicans wouldn't have existed, since much extraneous luck was involved. But again, luck was always needed, and it's tough to really parse what the difference between a 13% and, say, 19% shot truly is. They're both unlikely, but... kind of possible? The difference between 13% and 0% though -- that one's a whole lot more tangible. Davids wouldn't be here, and, it can't be stated enough, the Pelicans could very likely not be here either.
From a league wide perspective, Stern's got plenty of negatives in my eyes. He's been mostly fantastic for owners, especially those of large market teams, though for the fans, the lockouts start to grate, and for the players and especially the superstars, one could make a case that their earning power hasn't grown appropriately with league revenues over the last 15 years and change. That the league hasn't moved away from the individual player max is irksome though the second half of my dream equation for market equality (no individual max, hard team cap) has had one side partially addressed through the new luxury tax.
As far as league commissioners themselves go? In American sports, Stern blows away his NFL and MLB counterparts to me. Bud Selig's absolute inability to deal with steroids in baseball has been laughable, while Goodell's terribly misguided efforts to take American football international are as farcical as his lip service to "player safety" in a ridiculously violent sport that lines its owners' coffers beyond handsomely.
Stern unequivocally leaves the league in a vastly better, healthier place than he found it; New Orleans, one might say, was a city more impacted than most.
Troll on, big guy.