NBA Commissioner Emeritus David Stern dead

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Source: NBA

Former NBA commissioner David Stern is no more. The 77-year-old basketball loving lawyer breathed his last on the New Years Day.

Stern is credited with taking the NBA around the world in his 30-year tenure as the longest-serving commissioner of the North American basketball league.

Stern had suffered a brain haemorrhage on December 12. In spite of an emergency surgery, doctors failed to save him. Sterns wife Diann and their family were at his bedside when doctors pronounced the legendary basketball administrator dead, NBA has reported on its official website.

Having started his professional journey with the NBA in mid 1960s, Stern rose to become the fourth commissioner of the league in 1984. He vacated the position in 2014, but never stopped working. The league that once fought for a foothold, under Stern’s tenure emerged as a $5 billion industry with a global footprint. He led the NBA to become one of the world’s most popular sports.

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“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,” said Adam Silver, who succeeded Stern as the NBA commissioner. “Every member of the NBA family is the beneficiary of David’s vision, generosity and inspiration.”

Stern would claim that guiding a league of mostly black players that was plagued by drug problems in the 1970s to popularity with mainstream America was one of his greatest achievements.

“The game is what brought us here. It’s always about the game and everything else we do is about making the stage or the presentation of the game even stronger, and the game itself is in the best shape that it’s ever been in,” he said on the eve of the 2009-10 season, calling it “a new golden age for the NBA.”

The legacy of Stern’s three-decade career as the NBA commissioner includes turning countless ballplayers into legends like Magic, Michael, Kobe, LeBron, just to name a few.

Stern also created the WNBA for women and the NBA Development League, now the G League.

He had been the league’s outside counsel from 1966 to ’78 and spent two years as the NBA’s general counsel, figuring he could always go back to his legal career if he found things weren’t working out after a couple of years. After serving as the NBA’s executive vice president of business and legal affairs from 1980-84, he replaced Larry O’Brien as commissioner.

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Under Stern, the NBA would play nearly 150 international games and be televised in more than 200 countries and territories, and in more than 40 languages, and the NBA Finals and All-Star weekend would grow into international spectacles. The 2010 All-Star game drew more than 108,000 fans to Dallas Cowboys Stadium, a record to watch a basketball game.

But he was also a relentless negotiator against those same employees in collective bargaining, and his loyalty to his owners and commitment to getting them favourable deals led to his greatest failures, lockouts in 1998 and 2011 that were the only times the NBA lost games to work stoppages.

David Joel Stern was born Sept. 22, 1942, in New York. A graduate of Rutgers University and Columbia Law School, he was dedicated to public service, launching the NBA Cares program in 2005 that donated more than $100 million to charity in five years.

Post quitting from his position as NBA commissioner, Stern kept himself busy taking trips overseas on the league’s behalf, doing public speaking and consulting various companies. He was inducted to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2014.

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