Losing Ticket

An L.A. businessman misses a chance to witness NBA history--again
February 06, 2006

IF MARC STERN offers you tickets to a basketball game, take them. When Stern was a freshman at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa., in 1962, he had a pair of tickets to a Philadelphia Warriors--New York Knicks game being played in nearby Hershey. But when a professor scheduled an exam for the day after the game, Stern gave the tickets away. While he was cramming, Wilt Chamberlain was pouring in a record 100 points. "I use one word to describe myself doing that," says Stern (right): "Schmuck."

Alas, the disappointment didn't do much to sharpen his instincts. Now the chairman of North American operations for a French bank in L.A. (and a minority owner of the Milwaukee Brewers), Stern, 61, gave his seventh-row season tickets for the Lakers' Jan. 22 game against Toronto to friend Steve Altman, the president of Qualcomm, because he had been invited to a birthday party that evening. While he was enjoying dinner with friends, Altman was watching Kobe Bryant drop 81 points on the Raptors, the second-biggest scoring binge in NBA history. So will Stern think twice about getting rid of his tickets in the future? "I don't anticipate that [Kobe's total] will be broken anytime soon," he says, "so I won't change my lifestyle."