Last updated: August 23, 2019
Topic: BusinessMarketing
Sample donated:

Application: Leadership and the Professional World of Sports


1.       Introduction

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In many cases, the success of business depends on the capability of top management like CEO to envision the long-term growth. In order to realize the dream, the management must be able to keep their employees’ motivation alive within a particular period. Many factors influence motivation such as career development, remuneration, skills and knowledge advancement etc.

The situation suggests that figuring out what motivate employees to achieve the corporate goals seems to be a challenging task that not all managements are capable of coping with the challenges.

Since top managements in a company have many employees coming from various culture and background, therefore, they should comprehend that there is no single tactic dealing with such diverse people. It implies that what motivates any employees may not work for another. Interestingly, a top management who is able to motivate himself and shows great passion in dealing with several situations, even the hardest one, will likely face favorably situation in motivating his subordinates.

The situation is true since one characteristic of a good leader is the capability to face problems head-on. According to Blagg and Young (2001), the great leaders are those never run away from reality. In fact, they, who become successful leaders, often share difficulty that a company encounters since this initiative repeatedly encourages people to make a better situation.

Concerning the issue, this paper will discuss the leadership of a commissioner in a sport industry. In this occasion, we will focus on discussing the success of David Stern, a commissioner of National Basketball Association (NBA), who becomes the icon of not only the U.S. basketball industry but also the world.


2.                  David Stern: Leadership Style and the Success of an NBA Commissioner

NBA not only becomes the basketball competition in the USA but also in the world. The fierce competition between teams in the NBA has spawned many talents that are not only come from the U.S. but also worldwide such as China, Germany, Croatia, and Argentine, to name a few.

The basketball competition does not only spawn leaders in court but also off court. At the court, great leaders are Michael Jordan who gave Chicago Bulls 3 champion rings. Meanwhile, the off court leader is David Stern who have conducted several key strategies to change the old image of basketball into an ever-interesting and profitable industry.

According to International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame (2004), David Stern became the NBA fourth Commissioner since February 1984 in which his vision has brought a new and fresh breath to the management of basketball league in the USA. Previously, Stern served several positions in the association including an outside legal counsel (in 1966), a general counsel (1978), and an executive vice president (1980). Several milestones during the Stern’s over 20-year management are:

Increase the association revenue by fivefold because of several strategies including the open of six franchises and NBA representative office in eight cities outside North America
Taking NBA games to be television staples that broadcasted into more than 175 countries worldwide
Successful launching of WNBA, the women’s professional league
The set up of successful settlement that leads to “free agency” partnership, agreement of collective bargaining about salary cap decision and revenue sharing
Stern also introduces several interesting programs such as anti-drug agreement and the creation of marketing arm in order to sell  NBA merchandises and NBA entertainment
NBA marketing and organizational strategy becomes the model of other sport management
(International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, 2004)


The above achievement strengthen the idea that David Stern is such a good leader since he can improve the NBA image from previously known as league with high profile player scandals and low interest into becoming the remarkable business model for other sports management and other business in the world (International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, 2004).

As a good leader, there is a notion saying that at any NBA competition session, whichever team win the competition, still the crown is the property of David Stern who successfully carries out very interesting entertainment at the court and into living room (Business Week, 2006).

Theoretically, the success of David Stern represents the implementation fifth level of leadership saying that an excellent leader is one who successfully gets through critical transition phase (Jenkins ; Visser 2001).

David Stern shows his fifth level of leadership when he turns upside down unfavorably situation in 1984 where about 17 out of NBA teams faces bankruptcy. He also increases attendances per game from 11,141 in 1984 into 17,252 per game in 1995-1996 (GN Entertainment, Inc, 2005).



Blagg, Deborah ; Young, Susan. (2001). What Makes a Good Leader?’ Harvard Business School Working Knowledge

Business Week. (2006). NBA Comissioner David Stern. Retrieved February 10, 2007 from

IGN Entertainment, Inc. (2005). Men of the Week: Business. Retrieved February 11, 2007 from

International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. (2004). David Stern. Retrieved February 11, 2007 from

Jenkins, John. ; Visser, Gerrit. (2001). Level 5 Leadership. Retrieved February 10, 2007 from

President ; Fellow of Harvard College. (2004). David J. Stern. Retrieved February 11, 2007 from

Tjosvold, Dean. ; Tjosvold. Mary M. 1995, Psychology for Leaders: Using Motivation, Conflict, and Power to Manage More Effectively, John Wiley and Sons.