The Los Angeles Lakers started 2020 off right as they were able to defeat the Phoenix Suns and move to 27-7 during the 2019-20 NBA season.
The Lakers looked like they were going to cruise to an easy win after going up by as many as 36 points, but a cold-shooting fourth quarter allowed the Suns to come back and nearly steal the game. However, LeBron James was able to carry Los Angeles down the stretch and avoid what would have been a disastrous result.
However, it was a sad day to the New Year as prior to the game, the league announced the passing of former NBA Commissioner David Stern. Head coach Frank Vogel took some time during his pregame media scrum to say a few words about him.
“On behalf of the Lakers, offering our condolences to the Stern family. David Stern was just an instrumental man in the development of our league and globalization of our league. I think Adam Silver said it best, we’re all beneficiaries of the work that he put in and to grow our brand and it’s a heavy day for all of us,” Vogel said.
Most Lakers fans remember Stern for the infamous vetoed trade between Los Angeles and the then-New Orleans Hornets that would have sent Chris Paul, but he is largely responsible for the global growth of basketball and the NBA. Stern took over as commissioner for Larry O’Brien in 1984 and was key in increasing the league’s television revenue throughout the years which then in turn raised player salaries.
Adam Silver took over for Stern in 2014 after the latter’s retirement, but most of the success of the NBA today can be attributed to him as he worked hard to market professional basketball. The Lakers — like the other 29 teams — owe a great deal of their popularity to Stern because without him, there is not the same level of interest as there is now.