ANKARA -- Former NBA Commissioner David Stern, who retired in 2014 after 30 years, has died, the league announced Wednesday evening.
Stern suffered a brain hemorrhage on Dec. 12 and underwent emergency surgery. He passed away with his wife, Dianne, and their family at his bedside, the NBA said on its official website.
"David Stern -- the Hall of Fame ex-NBA Commissioner -- has died at 77 years old. He oversaw tremendous growth in his 30 years as commissioner, retiring in 2014," said ESPN's NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter.
The NBA has seen great growth under Stern's management, minimizing drugs and violence problems to become a global sport led by phenomenal players such as Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver issued a statement following Stern's death:
“For 22 years, I had a courtside seat to watch David in action. He was a mentor and one of my dearest friends. We spent countless hours in the office, at arenas, and on planes wherever the game would take us. Like every NBA legend, David had extraordinary talents, but with him, it was always about the fundamentals -- preparation, attention to detail, and hard work.
“David took over the NBA in 1984 with the league at a crossroads. But over 30 years as Commissioner, he ushered in the modern global NBA. He launched groundbreaking media and marketing partnerships, digital assets and social responsibility programs that have brought the game to billions of people around the world. 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. Our deepest condolences go out to David’s wife, Dianne, their sons, Andrew and Eric, and their extended family, and we share our grief with everyone whose life was touched by him.”
NBA legends also shared their thoughts on Stern's passing.
Magic Johnson wrote: "David Stern was such a history maker. When I announced in 1991 I had HIV, people thought they could get the virus from shaking my hand. When David allowed me to play in the 1992 All Star Game in Orlando and then play for the Olympic Dream Team, we were able to change the world."
Michael Jordan, as per NBA insider Shams Charania sourcing The Athletic, issued a statement as well.
"Without David Stern, the NBA would not be what it is today. He guided the league through turbulent times and grew the league into an international phenomenon, creating opportunities that few could have imagined before. His vision and leadership provided me with a global stage that allowed me to succeed. David had a deep love for the game of basketball and demanded excellence from those around him -- and I admired him for that. I wouldn't be where I am without him. I offer my deepest sympathies to Dianne and his family."
Kobe Bryant also said: "The game changed in so many ways under David Stern’s leadership and vision. He demanded the best of everyone because he gave it himself. #Respect Thank you, Commissioner. RIP." (Anadolu)