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    PBA chief Willie Marcial remembers NBA's David Stern for his lighter side

    Jan 4, 2020

    DESPITE perceived as someone who’s a formal person, David Stern also has his funny side.

    That’s how PBA commissioner Willie Marcial fondly remembers his former NBA counterpart who passed away on New Year’s Day after suffering brain hemorrhage.

    “Makulit na tao din,” he said when asked of his first encounter with the 77-year-old man who was responsible for turning around a moribund league late in the 70s into a global phenomenon just before he retired in 2014.

    “Akala mo formal, pero in the few times na nagkakasalubong kami, lagi akong binibiro.”

    The first time he met Stern came in 2003 when he, along with former league commissioner Noli Eala, was invited as special guests of the NBA during a regular season game in Saitama, Japan between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Seattle Supersonics.

    Marcial was then PBA media bureau head.

    “We were formally introduced during a dinner. OK naman, kuwento-kuwento,” said the PBA chief.

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    But in the several times that the two would cross paths, Stern would always tease him.

    “PBA! PBA! PBA!,” Stern would always chant in front of Marcial with his arms raised and a clenched fist.

    “Paulit-ulit yun kapag nagkikita kami, tapos magtatawanan lang kami,” added the PBA official.

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      Before leaving back for Manila, Marcial had his photo taken with Stern. He later had the picture framed and proudly displayed at his office in the PBA in Libis.

      Marcial lamented failing to personally meet Stern when the NBA held its first ever pre-season game in Manila back in 2013 between the Houston Rockets and the Indiana Pacers.

      “Masyadong masikip yung schedule kaya hindi nagkaroon ng pagkakataon,” he said.

      Two seasons after, Stern retired from the NBA after 30 years as he became the longest-tenured commissioner in the history of major North American sports leagues.

      “Magaling na leader but who also had his lighter side,” said Marcial.

      “Pero we owed a lot to him lalo na pagdating sa larangan ng NBA, na siya talagang dahilan sa muling pagbangon nito.”

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