SI's 50 Most Powerful People in Sports

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Photo: Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

#2

David Stern

NBA commissioner

The longest-tenured commissioner in pro U.S. sports will retire next Feb. 1 -- 30 years to the day after he took the job. But the 70-year-old is no lion in winter, as the Spurs were reminded when Stern fined them $250,000 for resting their top four players for a nationally televised game against the champion Heat in November.
Since 1983, the NBA's revenue has grown from $140 million to an estimated record of $5 billion for 2012-13 with the widest global imprint among the four major North American pro leagues. Stern has put the NBA at the forefront of digital and social media (16 million Facebook likes, seven million Twitter followers -- the best among U.S. leagues) and has gotten tough on PEDs (HGH testing should be in place by next season).
Now, for his handpicked successor, Adam Silver (No. 18), Stern leaves contracts with ESPN and Turner Sports through 2015-16 as well as the sport's next big rivalry: Last year's Heat-Thunder, LeBron-Durant Finals drew the best ratings since '04. With the NFL, MLB and most NCAA rights locked in, Silver will have leverage for a huge increase, meaning that Stern's legacy will stand long after his time atop the hardwood throne ends.
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