The National Basketball Association continues to mourn the death of former commissioner David Stern, with league executives remembering him as a commanding and complicated leader who many regard as having been one of the greatest commissioners in sports.
Adam Silver, who succeeded Stern as NBA commissioner in 2014, called him a “mentor” and “friend.” Stern, who died Sunday at the age of 77, three weeks after being hospitalized for a sudden brain hemorrhage, is survived by his wife, Dianne, and their sons, Andrew and Eric.
“Like every NBA legend,” Silver said in a statement, “David had extraordinary talents, but with him it was always about the fundamentals — preparation, attention to detail, and hard work. 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,” Silver continued. “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.”
San Antonio Spurs CEO R.C. Buford, the team’s general manager during Stern’s time as commissioner, remembered him as a man of “clear vision and purpose.”
Buford and the Spurs certainly had their battles with the league office while Stern was in charge. It was Stern who hit the Spurs, which many consider the organization that popularized the “rest” trend in the NBA, with a $250,000 fine in 2012 for doing exactly that when the team played the Miami Heat in a primetime matchup. The Spurs rested star players Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Danny Green by sending them home, an action Stern called a “disservice to the league and our fans.”
Despite any differences during Stern’s reign, Buford joined in with other NBA executives around the league who remembered Stern as the person who changed the image and economics of the league.
“He built our game to a significant position, not only domestically but around the world. He had an impact on basketball across so many platforms,” Buford said.
During his 30-year tenure, from 1984 to 2014, Stern took the NBA from a 23-team organization struggling to make a profit to a 30-team operation whose revenue increased by 30 times to a reported $5 billion. He helped boost its attraction by expanding its presence outside the United States through marketing and television broadcasts in more than 200 countries and regions in 49 languages.
He also presided over four NBA lockouts and led efforts to create two new leagues, the Women’s National Basketball Association and the NBA Development League; implemented the first dress code and first anti-drug agreement in professional sports, and introduced salary caps and revenue sharing to the league.
Philadelphia 76ers CEO Scott O’Neil, who worked for Stern in the league office, said Stern read “stacks of newspaper articles” to study international affairs as he attempted to reach a bigger audience for the NBA.
“It wasn’t sports,” O’Neil told CNBC. “He wasn’t reading about the Atlanta Hawks versus Milwaukee game. He was reading about life science, and politics, the emerging economy in Brazil and India, and the incredible market that Africa is today. He understood the geopolitical impact and influence that it would have on this game.”
Neil Olshey, the Portland Trail Blazers president of basketball operations, said “for those of us fortunate enough to work in this league under David’s leadership, he elevated the standard of excellence in all areas of basketball operations and required you to always be at your best.”
Stern is described by some as a “shrewd businessman” and a commissioner who was a “commanding leader.”
Golden State Warriors Chief Operating Officer Rick Welts called Stern the “single most important individual” in the history of the NBA.
Welts worked under Stern as the league’s chief marketing officer and president of NBA Properties until 1999 before leaving the NBA to become president of Fox Sports Enterprises.
In a video statement provided by the Warriors, Welts called Stern a “mentor.”
Said Welts: “I used to joke that my greatest success of my life was directly reporting to David Stern for 17 years and living to tell about it, because it was, some days, an amazing challenge.
“I had a complicated relationship with him, like everybody else,” Welts continued, “but at the end of the day, he was a friend, he was a mentor, and his inspiration, creative genius, innovation, ingenuity are the things that really created the NBA that we know today.”
Though Stern reported to the league’s owners, he was also seen as a commissioner who had the players’ best interests in mind when it came to growing league revenue.
After Stern’s first year as NBA commissioner in 1984, players’ salaries ranged from $60,000 to $2.5 million, and the league’s salary cap was roughly $3.6 million. When he departed in 2014, the salary cap reached $58.6 million, while player salaries ranged from $490,180 to $30.4 million.
Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan, who was drafted by the Chicago Bulls the first year Stern became commissioner, told The Athletic that Stern created “opportunities” for players to grow their brands. Last year, the Jordan brand’s parent company, Nike, announced the line reached its first-ever $1 billion quarter.
“His vision and leadership provided me with the global stage that allowed me to succeed,” Jordan told the subscription-based sports media company. “David had a deep love for the game of basketball and demanded excellence from those around him — and I admired him for that. I wouldn’t be where I am without him.”
In a text message to CNBC, Roger Montgomery of sports agency Elite Athlete Group added: “His legacy of turning the NBA and the game of basketball into what it is today has made it possible for me to be a part of the awesome opportunities I’m experiencing as an agent. Thank you, Mr. Stern.”
Leafs-Lightning Was Always Going To Leave Someone Haunted – Defector
Following their Game 6 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs star Auston Matthews said the plan for the series deciding matchup was simple. “We’ve just got to put our balls on the line and go for it,” he told reporters.
He wasn’t wrong about that, it just turns out the Lightning were also willing to risk life, limb and every other necessary appendage to get back to the Stanley Cup Final. And for the fifth-straight year in a row Toronto is being sent home after another first round knockout, losing 2-1 in fight that went down to the last minute.
This game was bound to be a punch in gut for one of these two teams with history on the mind entering Game 7: Tampa looking to win the cup for the third-straight year (the first team since the New York Islanders during their stretch from 1979 – 1983), and Toronto, well, just trying to just reach the second round for the first time since 2004. But if we want to be clerical about it, the Leafs were also searching for their first cup win since the Canadian Centennial and Lester B. Pearson was prime minister.
While the sting of this year’s exit may not be as bad as previous years for Toronto, it will linger all the same given the two chances at sending Tampa home after leading the series 3-2 after Game 5, which makes for the second season in a row they’ve blown that kind of lead.
Tampa is moving on thanks to third liner Nick Paul, who scored both goals on the evening and seemed to be everywhere he was needed on the ice Saturday night. Paul picked up his first career playoff goals in the win, which makes since he wound up on the Bolts roster after a March trade from Ottawa. Prior to Saturday he racked up just five goals and 14 points since saying goodbye to the Senators.
But his timing was much needed in a tight game where Tampa’s stars were running on an empty tank and the Leafs scorers were threatening most of the game. With two minutes left in the first period, Paul and Ross Colton took an odd man rush into the Leafs’ end, with Colton firing on goalie Jack Campbell and Paul turning the rebound for a score.
Whatever high Tampa had coming off that score was quickly deflated when Brayden Point, who scored the winning goal in overtime against the Leafs in Game 6, was injured after colliding with the boards near the end of the first period. Point had to be helped off the ice and tried to return at the beginning of the second period, barely making it one shift before heading to the bench.
The Leafs dialed it up from there, with Captain John Tavares scoring from the slot and putting the score even at 1-1. But the goal was called off on an interference call on Leafs defenseman Justin Holl, who caught Tampa’s Anthony Cirelli in a pick. But they got one that counts with just under 7 minutes left in the period, when Matthews charged across the blue line, dragging Tampa defenders with him before dishing to Morgan Rielly for the score.
But before the game could settle into a reset, just three minutes later Paul came back with a skate-to-stick combo that I can only describe in the most technical terms as “un-fucking-believable.” See for yourself:
It was fitting that Paul emerged as the latest legend of the moment for a Tampa team that has relied on group contributions during their latest run. Tampa Bay managed to keep a chunk of its players around over its title-winning seasons, and even if the regular cast aren’t taking lead, there always seems to be someone ready to step up when the moment comes.
That includes goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, who played like a fortress on skates last night, stopping 30 out of 31 shots on goal, and locking in the game for the Lightning. A crucial third period power play from the Leafs seemed like it could tip the balance of the game, instead Vasilevskiy fended off six shots and had a little bit of luck with one puck that chased directly behind him, passing through the crease in the blink of an eye.
The disappointment in Toronto will be palpable, and if it wasn’t for the skeletal-hand of fate on the shoulder of this franchise always whispering dread nightmares into their ear whenever the spring comes around, Leafs fans could look at the upside. They played like the better team most of the series, and in the deciding game they outshot the defending champions 31 to 25. Maybe this was just the shit luck of the draw. Maybe this season could have been a tipping point for Toronto based off records alone: they set a team record for points (115), Mitch Marner hit a career high 97 points on the season and Matthews netted a record-setting 60 goals. Maybe they could just get the gang back together for one last heist next season. That may not be entirely likely as they have $77.451 million already on the books, with more than a few guys facing the rough questions of life after 30 on an NHL roster and Campbell entering free agency looking for a well-deserved payday. But hey, Matthews and Marner likely aren’t going anywhere, which is nice.
Tampa moves on to play the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Panthers, the second time they face off in the last two years. The Lightning bounced them last year, so it should be another exciting series of Florida-based hockey, which is a sentence that never stops being weird to this Minnesota-born writer, no matter how good these squads are.
Doncic helps Mavericks stun Suns with dominant performance in Game 7 – Sportsnet.ca
PHOENIX (AP) — It was no surprise when Luka Doncic looked ready for Game 7, calmly draining his first three shots to give the Dallas Mavericks an early lead.
The stunner came over the next two hours: The top-seeded Phoenix Suns had no response.
Doncic scored 35 points, Spencer Dinwiddie added 30 and the Mavericks blitzed the Suns with a 123-90 knockout Sunday night, advancing to the Western Conference finals for the first time since 2011.
“A lot of people said it would be a blowout,” Mavs coach Jason Kidd said with a grin. “They were right.”
Of course, it wasn’t Dallas that was supposed to win on Sunday. The home team won the first six games of the series, but the Mavs broke through, dominating in a hostile environment from start to finish. Conversely, it was an embarrassing no-show for the playoff-tested Suns — who advanced to the NBA Finals last season with a very similar roster.
“We played all season to be in this situation,” Suns guard Chris Paul said. “It didn’t work out for us.”
The fourth-seeded Mavericks travel to face Golden State in Game 1 on Wednesday.
“I can’t get this smile off my face,” Doncic said. “I’m just really happy. Honestly, I think we deserved this.”
Doncic earned the Mavs an early lead, making his first three shots, including two 3-pointers. That helped Dallas push to a 27-17 advantage in the first quarter and a whopping 57-27 cushion at the halftime break.
Doncic and Dinwiddie, who came off the bench, combined to pour in 48 of the Mavericks’ 57 points. Doncic’s 27 points in the first half matched the Suns’ team total.
Game 7 drama? Not in the desert.
“It’s still kind of shocking,” Dinwiddie said.
Simply put, the Suns looked overwhelmed by the pressure of a Game 7. They missed shots they usually make, made bad passes they usually don’t make and looked nothing like the team that won an NBA-best 64 games during the regular season.
“That group has a lot of character and integrity and I know how bad they wanted it,” Suns coach Monty Williams said. “We just could not execute tonight. Couldn’t make a shot early, that messed with us a little bit and Dallas played their tails of from start to finish.”
By halftime, many Suns fans were booing at the unsightly display.
The series might have been close but the individual games usually were not. Three of the first six games were decided by at least 20 points and none of the games came down to the final possession.
Game 7 followed a similar pattern, except the team doing all the damage was the road team. The Mavs led this one by 46 points.
Doncic was fantastic, making shots from all over the floor and finishing 12 of 19 from the field, including 6 of 11 on 3s. He also got some help: Dinwiddie was stellar in the first half with 21 points on 7-of-10 shooting, including 4 of 5 from 3-point range.
They became the eighth pair of teammates to score 30 points in a Game 7, the first since Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant in 2002.
Meanwhile, Phoenix’s All-Star backcourt of Paul and Devin Booker was never a factor. The 37-year-old Paul is a 12-time All-Star that has done just about everything possible in the game except win a championship.
After this setback, it’s fair to wonder if there will be many more opportunities. Booker finished with 11 points and shot 3 of 14. Paul had 10 points and four assists. The Suns shot just 37.9% from the field.
“You could see some of the pressure was on them early,” Kidd said. “They missed some shots they normally make.”
Dallas beat the odds with the win: After the Celtics defeated the Bucks earlier Sunday, the home team was 110-33 (77 per cent) in NBA Game 7s.
It’s the second straight year the Suns have lost a playoff series after having a 2-0 lead. They won the first two games against the Bucks in the NBA Finals last season before losing four straight games.
Mavericks: Doncic and Dinwiddie were the first teammates to have at least 20 points in a half in Game 7 since Patrick Ewing and Allan Houston did it for the Knicks in 1997, according to ESPN Stats & Info.
Suns: Phoenix shot just 6 of 23 (26.1 per cent) from the field in the first quarter. … The Suns hosted another sellout crowd at Footprint Center. Celebrities in attendance included baseball great Alex Rodriguez and rapper Lil’ Wayne. … The Suns are the second team in NBA history to win at least 64 games in the regular season and not make the conference finals. The other was the Mavericks in 2007. … Phoenix has still never won a title since coming into the league in 1968. … Deandre Ayton played just 18 minutes and finished with five points and four rebounds. When asked about Ayton’s lack of playing time, Williams responded “It’s internal.” Ayton did not speak to the media postgame.
2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs Game 7: Rangers host Penguins and Flames take on Stars on Sunday – CBS Sports
After three Game 7s on Saturday, the thrilling 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs continue Sunday with another pair of win-or-go-home matchups. Those final two games will finalize the second round, making them must-see TV for hockey fans.
To close the first round, the Dallas Stars and Calgary Flames will battle at the Scotiabank Saddledome at 9:30 p.m. on ESPN2 and on fuboTV (try for free). The series has been a goalie showcase thus far, as Dallas’ Jake Oettinger is No. 2 in save percentage in these playoffs while Calgary’s Jacob Markstrom is second in goals against average. A Stars win would send them to the second round for the first time since their Stanley Cup final run in 2020, and Calgary is seeking its first playoff series win since 2015.
In an absolutely thrilling game, Artemi Panarin sent a shot to the right side of Tristan Jarry’s net to put the Rangers into the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Panarin was assisted by Adam Fox and Mika Zibanejad on the overtime game winner. Zibanejad was key for the Rangers’ success late in the game as his goal at the 14:15 mark in the third period was what sent it to overtime. Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan was 3-0 in Game 7s coming into this game. His team finished the night with a 45-30 shot on goal advantage. Sidney Crosby did play in the game, after missing Game 6, and recorded an assist in the loss.
Follow here for all the live updates of what should be an extremely fun NHL Sunday night.
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