Clippers’ Doc Rivers recalls funny story with David Stern
LOS ANGELES – The NBA world is mourning the loss of Commissioner Emeritus David Stern, who passed away on January 1, 2020 following a brain hemorrhage three weeks ago. Ahead of their first matchup since the calendar flipped to 2020, LA Clippers head coach Doc Rivers spoke about Stern and one of his favorite memories of him.
“I’ve known David Stern obviously for a very long time through my uncle Jim Brewer who played in the NBA long before me, I got to meet the commissioner and then all the way through being a player, being a coach.”
“He was just a neat man, he was the sheriff, as I’ve said earlier with love. He came in and people don’t remember this league when he came in, this was a tough league, this was a drug-infested image-problem league and David Stern came in and cleaned it up and kept it going, he’s the most influential person to ever be involved in this league other than players, and he’s in the top 10 if you include players which I think is amazing.”
Rivers coached the Orlando Magic from 1999 until 2003, having been let go 11 games into the 2003-04 season. Coach Rivers admitted that the first phone call he received following his firing was from then-Commissioner David Stern.
“David Stern was my first call when I was fired as a coach. Funny story I actually had never been fired, so you know I get home and David Stern’s on the phone and I’m thinking wow this is a cool thing when you get fired the commissioner calls! But what he was calling me to tell me was that tomorrow ABC was going to offer me the job and I better take it, to work with Al Michaels.”
— Tomer Azarly (@TomerAzarly) January 3, 2020
“Just growing up in how school in senior year knowing that if I really wanted to get here, I would have to shake his hand to be able to enter the league,” recalled Leonard. “Just having those visions as a high school senior into my sophomore year in college, just envisioning myself where I can cross that stage and I got the opportunity to do that and meet him. That’s a memory that will stick with me.”
The league held moments of silence throughout arenas over the last couple of days. To honor Commissioner Emeritus David Stern and recognize his countless contributions to the NBA, all players and referees will wear a commemorative black band on their uniforms for the remainder of the 2019-20 NBA season, including the playoffs and Finals.