Basketball: Former NBA commissioner David Stern dies, aged 77

  • 02/01/2020
David Stern was in charge when Steven Adams was drafted in 2013.
David Stern was in charge when Steven Adams was drafted in 2013. Photo credit: Getty

Former National Basketball Association (NBA) commissioner David Stern, who oversaw the explosive growth in the popularity of the game during his tenure, has died at the age of 77.

Stern, who served 30 years as the NBA's longest-tenured commissioner before Adam Silver replaced him on February 1, 2014, had been in serious condition after undergoing emergency surgery on December 12 in New York following a sudden brain haemorrhage.

Stern oversaw the NBA's extraordinary growth with seven new franchises, a more than 30-fold increase in revenue, a dramatic expansion of national TV exposure and the launch of the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) and NBA Development League.

He also had a role in many other initiatives that helped shape the league, including a drug policy, salary cap system and dress code.

"David took over the NBA in 1984 with the league at a crossroads," current NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement.

He added that Stern "ushered in the modern global NBA. 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.

"Because of David, the NBA is a truly global brand."

Under Stern's leadership, the league opened 13 global NBA offices and, in 1990, became the first US professional sports league to stage a regular-season game outside North America when Phoenix Suns played Utah Jazz in Japan.

Stern also presided over four NBA lockouts, including two that resulted in shortened seasons in 1998-99 and 2011. Stern was inducted to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2014 and the FIBA Hall of Fame in 2016.