Still The Man, though the NBA has hit some potholes. Stern imposed the lockout to overhaul an economic system he says led 23 of 30 teams to lose money. Barring a quick agreement, the opening of training camps in early October will be jeopardized as will an on-time Nov. 1 season start.
Robert Boland, professor of sports business at
The labor battle could be one of Stern's final crises, since he will be 69 on Thursday.
"He's in the arena. And that's the challenge. That's the one place that's hard," Boland said. "Stern's legacy is as one of the five or six or seven most important people in the development of sport."
The NFL recently announced a $15.2 billion renewal of its "Monday Night Football" deal with
Isn't that enough to make you say Goodell is No. 1?
"Others would look at Roger Goodell and probably say that he woke up on third base, from all his advantages," Boland said.
Scott Rosner, associate director of the Wharton Sports Business initiative at the
SEC schools, buoyed by five straight
"I think Mike Slive is a very forward-looking commissioner," Boland said. "They've grown in importance by being a powerful fish on a relatively comfortable part of the ocean or smaller pond."
Scott, hired 21/2 years ago from the Women's
"He's taken the Pac-12 from the Dark Ages to the cutting edge," Rosner said.
Selig has served owners well, growing gross revenue from $1.4 billion in 1995 to $7 billion in 2010.
"Bud Selig, on some levels, has been maligned in some circles as an owner who got appointed commissioner and was an acting one for a long time," Boland said. "On the other hand, you can look at baseball and go, 'Hey, this sport has weathered the economy pretty well.' They're in a pretty strong state and they weathered a great crisis in the performance-enhancing drug crisis and have come through a fairly horrible recession economically not too terribly badly off."
Sutton was less kind.
"No matter how they try and spin it, we can sit here and pick which teams are going to be in the playoffs every year. There are more haves and have-nots in baseball than in any other sport," Sutton said.
He earned a dubious distinction in 2004 as the first commissioner to cancel a season, but he got the hard salary cap and economic reforms owners demanded. He backed fan-friendly rules that improved play and benefited when the Canadian dollar grew stronger.
But teams learned to exploit loopholes in the labor deal by giving out long-term contracts with low cap hits, and some teams will lose money by staying at or near this season's $48.3 million salary floor. Several teams are for sale, and the
Don Garber, MLS
He smartly steered his teams toward playing in soccer-specific stadiums and managed expansion to 20 teams next season. The TV package will principally move to
But the quality of play and TV ratings must improve, and Garber must find someone other than
Tim Finchem, PGA
— Helene Elliott,