With the Golden 1 Center closer to its opening, the Sacramento Kings are planning to name a nearby street after former NBA commissioner David Stern.
Under this plan, Stern’s legacy would be at the forefront of the arena, with the billing 500 David J. Stern Walk. The location of this particular area is prime real estate, standing out to passersby as they approach the main entrance of the Golden 1 Center.
Across sports, there is a fairly well-established trend of naming streets surrounding stadiums and arenas after individuals who were significant to the franchise. In the NBA in particular, there is a commonality of branding the streets in a way to that has some symbolic significance to the particular franchise—from Legends Way in Boston, to Championship Drive in Detroit—or after the arena itself. (See cities such as San Antonio and Atlanta.)
However, it is not common around sports for such a tribute to be bestowed upon a commissioner, particularly if the commissioner has no broader connection to the franchise. According to the Kings, however, Stern went above and beyond to keep basketball in Sacramento, making this designation warranted. More from the Sacramento Bee:
“When I learned we would have the option of naming the road, it was a no-brainer for me,” Kings principal owner Vivek Ranadive told The Sacramento Bee on Monday. “There were no other names on my list. David took the NBA to the global level and started the WNBA, but he is about so much more than basketball. He is one of the greatest leaders in the world, and on top of that, the team would not be in Sacramento without David Stern.”
The walk encompasses the part of K Street that stretches from Fifth to Seventh streets, passing the main entrance to the arena. That portion of the street had previously been part of Downtown Plaza and has not been a public street for many years.
Stern, who maintains an office in New York and has worked as a consultant since retiring from the NBA in January 2014, was told about the plan during a visit from Ranadive in April.
“Vivek asked if he could stop by, and I said, ‘Sure,’ ” Stern said late Monday. “He said, ‘In light of your 30 years as commissioner and everything you have done for Sacramento, we’d like to name the street on which Golden 1 Center sits in your name.’ I was deeply touched. I said, ‘Now what do I do?’ He said, ‘You have to come out for the dedication on Sept. 30 and the first home game of the season (date to be determined).’ I said, ‘Sure.’ ”
Under Stern, the league did make some strides to keep the Kings in Sacramento as they tried to move on from Sleep Train Arena, including its acceptance of the team’s current ownership group. A proposed move to Seattle was rejected by league officials in 2013, and a few other cities made unsuccessful pushes for the Kings under Stern’s watch—including Anaheim and Virginia Beach. Stern was also the commissioner when the team relocated from Kansas City.
The honor may buck some trends in sports, but if nothing else, the Kings are showing their commitment to reminding fans of Stern’s role in keeping the team in town.
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