With major monetary issues on the table, the league faces the growing possibility of losing games to labor strife for the first time.
The league also faced a plague of legal and emotional problems among its players.
But the party's acclaim did not remove a sense that the league is facing problems as it seeks support beyond its northern base.
The league later instituted a rule requiring teams looking for a head coach to interview at least one minority candidate or face a fine.
That knowledge will be critical as the league faces significant challenges, in the coming months and over the next decade.
There's nothing wrong with that, though, because this is one of the most crucial decisions the league has faced in its history.
But even that league now faces the issue of how to construct new sharing mechanisms.
Stern admitted that the league faced a potential problem.
When the new system is fully in place in 2001, he added, the largest annual increase any league will face is $2,100.
Tagliabue, however, will have his leadership skills put to the test in the next several years as the league faces myriad tough issues.