David Joel Stern (born September 22, 1942) is the commissioner of the National Basketball Association. He began his relationship with The Association in 1966 as outside counsel, joined the NBA in 1978 as General Counsel, and became the league's Executive Vice President in 1980. He became Commissioner in 1984 succeeding Larry O'Brien. He is credited with increasing the popularity of the NBA in the 1990s and 2000s. Stern has served on the Rutgers University Board of Overseers and currently serves as Chair of the Board of Trustees of Columbia University. He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
David Stern was born on September 22, 1942 in New York City, New York. He grew up in Teaneck, New Jersey in a Jewish family, and is a graduate of Teaneck High School. Stern attended Rutgers University, where in 1960 he pledged to the Sigma Delta Chapter of Sigma Alpha Mu Fraternity. He graduated as B- dean's-list history student in 1963 and graduated from Columbia Law School in 1966, and was admitted to the bar in New York later that year after passing the state's bar examination.
His first association with the NBA in 1966 was as an outside counsel at Proskauer Rose. In 1978, Stern became the NBA's General Counsel under Larry O'Brien. By 1980, he was Executive Vice President of the NBA. During this time, two landmark decisions were reached with the NBA Players' Association: drug testing and team salary cap. The drug testing dealt with the perception that most basketball players used drugs, that the NBA admitted it had a problem, and it was cleaning it up. The salary cap created a revenue-sharing system where owner and player were effectively partners. Both of these agreements solidified Stern's standing inside NBA circles.