NEW YORK — David Stern spent nearly 30 years growing the NBA, turning a league that couldn't even get its championship series on live prime-time TV into a projected $5 billion a year industry.
Confident the league is in good shape and certain he has found someone who can make it better, Stern is ready to end one of the most successful and impactful careers in sports history.
Stern will retire as commissioner on Feb. 1, 2014, 30 years to the day after taking charge, and be replaced by deputy commissioner Adam Silver.
"I decided that things are in great shape and there's an organization in place that will ultimately be led by Adam that is totally prepared to take it to the next level," Stern said Thursday during a news conference after the league's board of governors meeting.
Stern has often been described as the model sports commissioner. He instituted a number of important policies, improved the league's public image and was a fearless negotiator against players and referees, though also their biggest defender any time he felt they were unfairly criticized.
"For all the things you've done for the NBA and for sports generally, I think there's no doubt that you'll be remembered as the best of all time as commissioners go, and you've set the standard, I think not even just for sports league commissioners but for CEOs in any industry," Silver told Stern sitting to his left on a podium.
Stern told owners of his plans during their two days of meetings, and the board unanimously chose Silver as his successor.
Stern, who turned 70 last month, became commissioner on Feb. 1, 1984. He has been the NBA's longest-serving commissioner, establishing the league's brand around the world, presiding over team expansion and overseeing the establishment of the WNBA and the NBA Development League.
MAVs suspend west: Mavericks guard Delonte West was suspended for unspecified conduct detrimental to the team, his second ban in the past 10 days. The first suspension lasted about a day, but tweets by West soon after the team announced the latest suspension raised questions on if he'll be back. "Just dont kick me … on the way out the door," West tweeted. "I didn't do anything to deserve that." The last of several tweets in just a few minutes said, "I'm just sittin here across from the arena wit tear in my eyes." West has bipolar disorder and addressed that topic in another tweet, saying "no I'm not off my meds."
KNICKS: Center Tyson Chandler is day to day. An MRI exam revealed a bone bruise in his left knee.
76ERS: The team picked up a contract option on swingman Evan Turner that will keep him through the 2013-14 season.
WNBA: Bill Laimbeer returned to the league as the New York Liberty's GM and coach.