The recently retired Stern was elected Friday to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and will be enshrined with the class of 2014 on Aug. 8 in Springfield, Mass.
Stern was on a ski trip to Colorado on Friday with his wife while the NBA was holding its first All-Star weekend without him in charge since 1983. New Commissioner Adam Silver and many other league employees who worked under Stern attended the press conference.
"I wanted to be here for David because I knew he wasn't in New Orleans this weekend. Just to be here to share the experience and then relay it back to him what the feel in the room was," said Silver, who worked under Stern since 1992.
"As I said earlier, while David is a modest guy, I know he was moved by the fact this was all happening so quickly, and he has always told me he doesn't like to reflect back sort of on his life or his career, but this will certainly force him to. And I know this is an emotional moment for him and it's an emotional moment for everybody who has worked with him over these years."
Alonzo Mourning, Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond, Kevin Johnson and Spencer Haywood are hoping to be part of the class. They were chosen as finalists, with the full class to be unveiled April 7 during the NCAA Final Four.
Hardaway and Richmond were teammates in Golden State and made up the Warriors' "Run TMC" trio along with Chris Mullin, who was elected to the Hall in 2011.
Stern retired on Feb. 1 after exactly 30 years as commissioner, during which he brought the league to its greatest success. Jerry Colangelo, chairman of the Hall of Fame board, said the Hall hopes to have a special spot to display a tribute to Stern.
"He deserves to be recognized in a huge way," Colangelo said.
Stern was elected by the contributors committee. Also directly elected to the Hall of Fame were Lithuania star Sarunas Marciulionis by the international committee, former Indiana Pacers coach Bob "Slick" Leonard by the ABA committee, former New York Knicks player Nat "Sweetwater" Clifton by the early African-American pioneers committee, and former Temple star Guy Rodgers by the veterans committee.
College coaches Eddie Sutton, Nolan Richardson and Gary Williams were also finalists, as were former women's coach Harley Redin and the women's team from Immaculata College, which won three straight national championships.