The Basketball world is mourning the death of David Stern, the former commissioner of the US National Basketball Association [NBA], who passed away at the age of 77.
Stern had been in a critical condition following a brain haemorrhage in December and sadly passed away in Manhattan on New Year’s Day.
An alumnus of the Columbia Law School, Stern first became affiliated with the NBA through his work for law firm Proskauer, Rose, Goetz & Mendelsohn [now Proskauer Rose LLP], who represented the league during the 1960s. He went on to be named the NBA's general counsel in 1978 and then executive vice president in 1980, before being appointed commissioner in 1984.
Stern occupied the NBA hot-seat for 30 years between February 1984 and February 2014, making him the longest-serving commissioner to date. During his tenure, he was credited with making basketball more lucrative and popular both in the US and worldwide.
Back in 1984 when Stern took on the role, basketball had inferior television audiences and financial resources to other US sports, but with a new approach which focussed on promoting its star players, he helped develop the profile of the NBA and basketball as a whole, catapulting names such as Michael Jordan to stardom.
Stern also oversaw the establishment of the Women's NBA in 1997, as well as the recruitment of seven new franchises into the NBA during his thirty years in charge.
When Stern retired in February 2014, US basketball games were being broadcast in over 200 countries. His then deputy who took over, Adam Silver, remains commissioner to this day.
Following Stern's death, Silver said in a 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.
“Every member of the NBA family is the beneficiary of David's vision, generosity and inspiration."