NBA Commissioner David Stern is retiring on February 1, exactly 30 years to the day after he first took over the office. David Aldridge at NBA.com put together an oral history on the commissioner from all sorts of people who worked with him and for him. Russ Granik, the former Deputy Commissioner/COO of the NBA says this:
Granik: There was less pressure on him (in the beginning). He’s always been a hard-driving guy. Maybe he was a little easier going, again, because there was less pressure than after the NBA started growing like crazy. But he was always a very hard working guy. He expected everyone that worked with him to work almost as hard. He always was a stickler for detail, even things that didn’t seem important at the time — like exactly how you worded a memo, exactly how you worded a press release, how you ran an event.
The whole article is full of that characterization: a tremendously hard worker who paid attention to every detail, charming, funny but brutal on anyone who dared to challenge him and weren’t prepared.