Former NBA commissioner David Stern, known for building the league into a sports and business powerhouse, died at 77 according to reports Wednesday.
Stern, who served as commissioner from 1984 to 2014, is credited in many areas of the NBA's development, from its merger with the ABA, to free agency and television deals that went from $10 million per year to pacts that will soon approach $1 billion per annum.
His impact will be felt forever on the sport, including the WNBA, according to his predecessor, Adam Silver.
"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.
The NBA has had tremendous players like Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, LeBron James and Michael Jordan, but the latter said without Stern they wouldn't have succeeded like they did on or off the court.
"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 phenomenom, creating opportunities that few could have imagined before," Jordan said in a statement. "His vision and leadership provided me with the 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."
Stern is survived by wife, Dianne and their sons, Andrew and Eric.
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