Former NBA commissioner David Stern died Wednesday afternoon after suffering a brain hemorrhage in the beginning of December. The hemorrhage required immediate surgery, and Stern has been unconscious and on a breathing tube since the incident, his son told CNN. He was 77.
Shortly after he passed, the Miller family and Utah Jazz released a statement, looking back on their nearly three-decade partnership with Stern.
“David Stern’s foresight and leadership propelled the NBA into a premier global sports and entertainment enterprise,” the statement said. “A year before we bought an interest in the Utah Jazz, he became the league’s commissioner. We cherished our close friendship with him and appreciated his continued demonstration of support, especially as we built the arena where he signed his name in the rafters.”
The Miller family noted that the Jazz thrived under Stern’s leadership, pointing to his vision for the future of the game.
“He was always mindful of our needs and we are certain the health of the Utah Jazz and the composition of the Larry H. Miller organization would look different without his influence,” they said.
Stern dramatically changed the NBA during his 30-year tenure as commissioner, leading a major franchise expansion and globalizing the business – bringing the league to a worldwide audience. Taking over in 1984, Stern transformed the league into a multibillion dollar business.
When he began, the league was at a crossroads. Revenue from television and other franchises were low, reaching financial stress. Under his leadership, revenues jumped from approximately $22 million to $930 million, and franchise values from $400 million in 1984 to $19 billion by the time he retired in 2014, according to a Forbes report.
Stern carried the league to a global sport, gaining a worldwide audience. The NBA became the first professional sports league to play a regular season outside of the U.S., and eventually players competed in the Olympics.
Current NBA commissioner Adam Silver released a statement in response, calling Stern a “mentor and one of my dearest friends.”
“Like every NBA legend, David had extraordinary talents,” Silver said. “But with him it was always about the fundamentals – preparation, attention to detail and hard work.”
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