Former NBA commissioner David Stern, who oversaw a period of major expansion and commercial prosperity for the league, died Wednesday, the NBA announced. He was 77 years old.
“For 22 years, I had a courtside seat to watch David in action,” Stern’s successor and current NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. “He was a mentor and one of my dearest friends. We spent countless hours in the office, at arenas and on planes wherever the game would take us.
“Like every NBA legend, David had extraordinary talents,” he continued, “but with him it was always about the fundamentals – preparation, attention to detail, and hard work.”
Stern served as commissioner for 30 years from 1984 to 2014, a period that saw the league’s audience broaden significantly, as well as the careers of several of its most iconic players, including Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley and Hakeem Olajuwon.
“He launched groundbreaking media and marketing partnerships, digital assets and social responsibility programs that have brought the game to billions of people around the world,” Silver said in the statement. “Because of David, the NBA is a truly global brand – making him not only one of the greatest sports commissioners of all time but also one of the most influential business leaders of his generation.”
Stern is survived his wife, Dianne, and his sons, Andrew and Eric.