Former New Orleans Hornets owner George Shinn was caught off guard Thursday when David Stern announced he will step down as NBA commissioner Feb. 1, 2014, 30 years after he took over the league. But believing that the league is in terrific condition, Stern announced his plans to retire, and the NBA Board of Governors unanimously voted to have Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver succeed him.
"I’m telling you he’s going to be missed,’’ Shinn said Thursday by telephone from his home in Tennessee. "I don’t see anybody filling that man’s shoes. I just can’t imagine the NBA without him. If I was still in the NBA, I would sell my team right now. He’s the primary reason why the league is so successful.’’
As far as New Orleans sports fans are concerned, Stern's main legacy will be his commitment to keeping the Hornets in the Crescent City after Hurricane Katrina made an already tough market even tougher. When Shinn was heavily in debt and his impending sale of the franchise to his minority partner Gary Chouest stalled, the NBA purchased the Hornets for just more than $300 million in December 2010.
Stern appointed New Orleans native Jac Sperling as the team’s chairman and governor and gave him instructions to seek potential buyers willing to keep the team in the Crescent City.
That task was completed last April when Saints owner Tom Benson bought the team for $338 million.
Benson was traveling back from the league’s Board of Governors meetings in New York and could not be reached for comment Thursday.