New York, 2 January 2020 (tca/dpa/MIA) – Former NBA commissioner David Stern died Wednesday afternoon, the league announced. He was 77 and had been in serious condition following surgery for a brain hemorrhage on December 12.
Stern was NBA commissioner from 1984 to 2014, a powerful and controversial 30-year tenure that grew the NBA into one of the most powerful sports leagues in the world.
Stern was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2014, and was by far the longest-tenured NBA commissioner. Under his leadership, NBA teams exploded in value and popularity, and the league became a global power.
Stern, one of the most influential figures in the history of American sports, was a hardline leader on behalf of the NBA‘s owners. His NBA locked out players four times, shortening two seasons. He introduced the league’s first drug testing and salary cap, and when that wasn’t enough control over the players, he instituted a dress code.
He was followed as commissioner in 2014 by his longtime No. 2, Adam Silver, who has sanded the edge off of Stern’s more reactionary policies while maintaining the NBA as global behomoth.
Stern also founded the WNBA in 1996.
About half of the league’s teams are where they are in part because of Stern. He ushered in seven expansion teams – the Bobcats, Grizzlies, Heat, Hornets, Magic, Raptors and Timberwolves – and helped relocate six more, including the Supersonics’ infamous move from Seattle to Oklahoma City.
Stern was born in New York City in 1942, and spent his childhood in New Jersey as a Knicks fan. He was married to his wife, Dianne, for 56 years before his death. Their son Eric is a political operative and their son Andrew is a real estate developer.