David Stern, the legendary NBA commissioner who turned the league into the successful phenomenon it is today, died on Wednesday at the age of 77.
In a statement to the media, the NBA announced that Stern died with his wife Dianne and their family by his side.
In December, Stern suffered a sudden brain hemorrhage and required immediate surgery. According to his son Eric, at the time, his father had not regained consciousness and was on a breathing tube.
David Stern’s effects on the NBA
David Stern was involved with the NBA for almost 20 years before he finally took over as the league’s fourth commissioner in 1984.
Stern’s arrival came around the same time a young man named Michael Jodan broke into the NBA. Both men had an immeasurable impact on the basketball league.
David Stern was NBA commissioner for 30 years and under his watch, the NBA went from a second-tier sports league into one that rivals even the NFL. By the time Stern retired, the NBA was a $5 billion a year industry — more than 40 times what it was making before he took over.
David Stern led the NBA into a global phenomenon and worked to make names like Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Magic Johnson, and Larry Bird into superstars everyone int eh world knew by name.
David Stern was in charge when the NBA put together their legendary Dream Team to head into the 1992 Olympics and win gold medals.
Stern saw seven new franchises join the league in his tenure, including two in Canada, and helped player contracts explode along with record earnings for the team owners themselves.
“When I got to the N.B.A. in 1984, which was Commissioner’s first year, the average salary was $250,000,” Charles Barkley said. “It’s almost $9 million now. And he is largely responsible for that.”
Tributes pour in for David Stern
Bill Russell, one of the most respected sports journalists working today, said it best when he said David Stern “changed so many lives” over his time on Earth.
I can not put into words what the friendship of David Stern has meant to me but many others. He changed so many lives. David was a great innovator and made the game we love what it is today. This is a horrible loss. Our hearts are with Dianne & their family. RIP my friend. @NBA pic.twitter.com/mbnneqm18s
— TheBillRussell (@RealBillRussell) January 1, 2020
Current NBA commissioner Adam Silver said he credits David Stern with making him into the commissioner he became, and the one he hopes to become over time.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver's statement on the passing of David Stern pic.twitter.com/SON5mOX7xF
— NBA TV (@NBATV) January 1, 2020
Tas Melas of The Athletic posted some of the accomplishments that David Stern was responsible for over his career.
Extensive list of David Stern's accomplishments as NBA commissioner: pic.twitter.com/o0e78zdwPC
— Tas Melas (@TasMelas) January 1, 2020
NBA superstar Karl-Anthony Towns credit David Stern for helping him put his family in the position they are today.
Th NBA and my family would not be in our position if wasn’t for one of the greatest Commissioners in professional sports. RIP David Stern. The game thanks you and will miss you.
— Karl-Anthony Towns (@KarlTowns) January 1, 2020
The WNBPA put it clearly when they said the WNBA would not exist without David Stern.
David Stern was the mastermind of the WNBA and contributed to the women's game at the professional level. May he rest in peace. https://t.co/faBtJxufgk
— WNBPA (@TheWNBPA) January 1, 2020
Pau Gasol chipped in that the world lost a legend and leader today.
Today the #NBAFamily lost a legend, a leader that changed our game for the better. A father, a husband, a friend.
— Pau Gasol (@paugasol) January 1, 2020
RIP David Stern. 🙏 (1996) pic.twitter.com/Fj3vurWwmP
— Timeless Sports (@timelesssports_) January 1, 2020
David Stern was 77. He leaves behind his wife Dianne Bock Stern and their two sons, Eric and Andrew.