OAKLAND, Calif. - He’s being called one of the most influential figures in basketball history who helped the NBA became the global powerhouse is it today. The league announced former NBA Commissioner David Stern has passed away.
Stern had suffered a sudden brain hemorrhage in New York back on December 12. He was in serious condition after he underwent surgery and was unable to recover. Many current and former players are reacting to his death. The Warriors called him a sports icon.
Prior to Wednesday’s Washington Wizards game against the Orlando Magic, the team had a moment of silence and paid tribute to former NBA Commissioner David Stern. The league announced Stern died from a brain hemorrhage he suffered three weeks ago. He was 77 years old. His wife and family were at his bedside.
Former commissioner of the NBA, David Stern, attends the NYCFC pop-up experience store VIP launch party on Aug. 30, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images)
“For me it's really hard to imagine a world without David Stern,” said Warriors President & Chief Operating Officer Rick Welts. “I don’t think there's any doubt that he is the single most important individual in the history of the NBA.”
Welts worked under Stern for 17 years. He called him a friend and mentor.
“His inspiration, creative genius, innovation, ingenuity are the things that created the NBA that we know today,” said Welts.
Stern spent more than three decades overseeing the league. He took over in 1984 when the NBA was at a crossroads.
“Finals games on taped delay, salary cap at $4 million total and to think where it is now,” said Warriors Coach Steve Kerr. “David Stern really led the expansion of the league.”
Stern transformed the NBA into a global brand, a $5 billion enterprise. All-time great Michael Jordan entered the league during Stern’s tenure.
In a statement, Jordan wrote, “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.”
Stern helped form the U.S. Olympic Dream Team in 1992. Magic Johnson, a key member of that team, praised Stern on Twitter.
“When I announced in 1991, I had HIV, people thought they could get the virus from shaking my hand,” tweeted Johnson. “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."
Stephen Curry posted a picture on Twitter and wrote, “Will never forget the words you spoke this day! With the 7th pick changed my life forever.”
“Everybody who is part of the NBA,” said Kerr. “We all owe him a great debt of gratitude for his service, for his impact.”
Stern was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2014 and is credited for creating the WNBA in 1997. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement that Stern was not only one of the greatest sports commissioners of all time but also one of the most influential business leaders of his generation. Stern leaves behind a wife and two sons.