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Former NBA Commissioner David Stern Dead at 77

Former NBA commissioner David Stern has died, the league said Wednesday. He was 77.

Stern died after suffering a brain hemorrhage about three weeks ago.

During his record 30 years at the helm, the league went from having its finals aired on TV in late night tape delay to becoming a broadcast, cable and new media powerhouse.

League TV revenues rose from about $10 million a year to $900 million a year during his tenure.

“David Stern was a brilliant leader whose vision was instrumental in creating the global success the NBA enjoys today," said ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro. "ESPN is deeply grateful for his tremendous partnership through the years. Our thoughts are with David’s loved ones, Commissioner Silver and the entire NBA family at this difficult time.” 

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“David Stern was a true visionary and brilliant architect of the NBA’s rise from a highly successful sports league to an admired global brand. His impact will be felt for generations to come. Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with his family, friends and the entire NBA community," Turner Sports said in a statement.

When he became NBA commissioner in 1984, Michael Jordan was just coming into the league. Jordan’s popularity helped drive TV ratings and the popularity of basketball around the world, culminating in the 1992 Olympics where the Dream Team, which featured Jordan and other professional players and inspired a wave of foreign-born stars.

"For 22 years, I had a courtside seat to watch David in action. He was a mentor and one of my dearest friends," NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. "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.”

Jon Lafayette
Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.