Jacque Vaughn doesn’t know NBA Commissioner David Stern well, but Vaughn can offer an assessment of Stern’s legacy now that Stern has announced he will retire in early 2014.
“I think he’s leaving the game in great hands, which is a direct correlation to his work, and he should be proud of that,” Vaughn said today, after the Orlando Magic finished their shootaround for their preseason matchup against the Houston Rockets.
Rockets coach Kevin McHale started his pro career in 1980, when Larry O’Brien was the league’s commissioner. But McHale saw the league’s popularity grow, especially after Stern took over in 1984.
McHale, of course, was a member of the great Boston Celtics teams of the 1980s, and played in the decade’s three NBA Finals matchups between Larry Bird’s Celtics and Magic Johnson’s Los Angeles Lakers.
“I think he’s been a great commissioner,” McHale said of Stern. “A lot of times in life, you’ve got to match up the right timing with the right plan, and the timing was Magic and Larry, and the plan was really promoted. It worked out really well. It really did.
“When I first got in the NBA, the Finals were tape-delayed,” McHale added. “It wasn’t a huge event as it is now, and within probably two or three years of David taking over, it became a much, much, much, much bigger thing.”
Vaughn has met Stern only in passing.
But Vaughn grew up attuned to the NBA, especially to the Lakers, in the 1980s.
I asked Vaughn to evaluate Stern's greatest achievement.
“The growth of the game, the popularity of the game, the direction that the game is going in right now,” Vaughn said.
“As a fan, the game is at a great place. It’s exciting. [There’s] great, young talent to carry our game forward for a long time.”
Josh Robbins covers the Orlando Magic and the NBA for the Orlando Sentinel. You can reach him via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and connect with him on Facebook at facebook.com/JoshuaBRobbins. Follow him on Twitter at @JoshuaBRobbins.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times