David Stern, former commissioner of the NBA, has died at age 77 after suffering a brain hemorrhage last December, the Association announced Wednesday.
Stern served as commissioner of the NBA from 1984 through 2014, ushering an era of rapid growth for professional basketball. This, during a time in which its popularity was significantly lower than it is today. At the beginning of Stern’s run as Commissioner, the NBA Finals were still being aired on tape delay. By the time he retired, the league had become a professional sports staple and one of the most financially successful leagues in the world.
Stern is, without a doubt, one of the most important figures in the history of professional basketball and all of sports. He started with the league as its general counsel in 1978, and helped institute the league’s salary cap prior to being named commissioner in 1984. In that role, he spearheaded a number of initiatives that helped transform the league into the powerhouse it is today.