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Stern believes the NBA is in good shape

NEW YORK (AP) - Commissioner David Stern believes he is leaving the NBA in great shape and in great hands in looking back on his nearly 30-year tenure as the league's boss.

Speaking before what will be his final NBA lottery, the 70-year-old Stern admitted Tuesday he has made some mistakes in running the league but noted that not every decision has a happy ending.

Stern announced earlier this season that he will step down on Feb, 1, coinciding with his 30th year on the job.

NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver will succeed Stern, and the commissioner said Silver will bring the league to new heights.

Stern and Silver held a short news conference before the lottery and touched on a number of issues.

Silver said the league won't speak to the players' association about making any changes to the current 19-year-old age limit when U.S. players are eligible for the draft until the association appoints a new executive director. The players ousted Billy Hunter earlier this season.

Stern said the league was happy the way replay was working out and envisioned there would be talk in June about increasing its usage. He said there are 13 or 14 instances where replay is used now.

``I couldn't be more energized and one of the reasons for the energy and one of the things I have always thought about with this job is that the best thing a CEO can do is have a successor and to be able to turn the reins over to,'' he said. ``After 30 years as commissioner and 36 years as an NBA employee and 48 years of having worked with the NBA, to turn the reins over to someone who has worked closely with me through the years and to have a seasoned executive like Adam Silver couldn't make me happier.''

Stern has some negatives on his resume including a couple of work stoppages, Seattle's loss of a franchise and other money losing ventures.

``Yes, I wish every incident had a happy ending, but there are some unhappy endings and some where one party is happy and another isn't,'' Stern said. ``I was thinking about this, there have been plenty of things I wish I had a do-over on.''

Stern said the initial model for WNBA - NBA teams owned the franchises - was a mistake. He also said the D-League is ``chugging'' and the league's decision to open offices internationally was a mistake.

While the four teams left in the playoffs -Miami, Indiana, San Antonio, Memphis - are in the lower half of the television market in terms of size, Stern wasn't upset.

``We are delighted that the best teams are having a great run and our TV markets are also happy,'' he said.

Stern also doesn't intend to fade away.

``I have lots of other things that I am very interested in, stay tuned I will not be inactive,'' he said.

He also was proud of his tenure.

``I feel very good about the 30 years,'' he said. ``I think I have a great job and it's been a great run. I am turning over the league in good shape to Adam, who will take it to new heights.''

Stern opened his press conference by mentioning tornado-ravaged Oklahoma.

``It has occupied much of our time and certainly our thoughts and certainly our thoughts of so many of our teams and team owners who have been calling their contacts at the team,'' he said. ``We have been speaking with Clay Bennett on a regular basis.''

The league and players association donated $1 million on Tuesday to the relief effort for the area.

``It's terrible,'' Stern said.

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