David Stern was a friend and a mentor to me. I met him when I was twenty-seven; I explained that we were building WHOOP to help athletes manage their bodies. David, having built the NBA for thirty years, told me “Just think of the value that you could create if every athletes’ career lasted even one year longer.” David became an investor and an advisor to WHOOP. I didn’t know what that would mean at the time, but I was excited to have him involved.
I called him a few months later and he didn’t answer, so I left a message. He called me back within minutes, asking “What can I do for you, Will?” I had a question about navigating one of the major pro sports leagues. He gave me great advice. At the end of our call, he said to me “You know Will, you should call me more!” He said it with a demanding and playful tone. And so just like that, I started calling him. He almost always answered right when I called and if he didn’t he called back later that day.
David Stern treated me as an equal. He went out of his way to help me and to help WHOOP. He truly cared about athlete well-being and he loved investing in technology that could tackle the mission of improving human performance. When I told him I wanted to start a podcast, he offered to be my first guest. When we were debating athlete privacy on WHOOP, he pushed for empowering the athletes first. When we were raising money, he called investors on my behalf.
I always felt like I got so much more out of our time together than he did. So I asked him, “David, why do you like investing in sports technology so much?” He said with a big smile and wide arms “Will, because it’s the future.”
David was generous and passionate for life up to his very last days. I had a celebratory WHOOP dinner with him about a week before he was taken to the hospital and, as usual, he was cracking jokes and reminding the team to stay focused.
Thank you, David. I miss you. May you rest in peace.