PASSINGS: Simon Gourdine, Svetozar Gligoric

Simon Gourdine

Former NBA executive


Simon Gourdine, 72, who became the highest-ranking black executive in professional sports when he was named deputy commissioner of the NBA in 1974, died Thursday in Englewood, N.J. The NBA confirmed his death but did not release the cause.

Gourdine helped negotiate a labor deal that created free agency in the NBA in 1976 and helped the league absorb the San Antonio Spurs, Indiana Pacers, New York (now New Jersey) Nets and Denver Nuggets from the upstart ABA.

He left the NBA in 1981 but returned to pro basketball in 1990 as general counsel for the National Basketball Players Assn. In 1995, he became executive director after Charles Grantham resigned during contentious negotiations on a collective bargaining agreement.

Gourdine ended up negotiating a deal that ended an NBA lockout and created a rookie pay scale. He was offered a contract to remain executive director, but the players refused to agree to it and he was pushed out in 1996. An arbitration panel awarded him nearly $1 million.

Gourdine was born July 30, 1940, in Jersey City, N.J. A graduate of City College of New York and Fordham University Law School, he became the NBA's attorney in 1970 and was hired as deputy commissioner by Commissioner Walter Kennedy.

Svetozar Gligoric

Legendary chess grandmaster

Svetozar Gligoric, 89, a legendary Serbian and Yugoslav chess grandmaster who was the national champion 12 times and one of the world's top players in the 20th century, died Aug. 14 in Belgrade, according to Serbia's Chess Federation. Serb media reported that he died of a stroke.

Gligoric was born in 1923 in Belgrade in what was then Yugoslavia. He won his first title at 15 by taking the Belgrade Chess Club championship.

Gligoric was from a poor family, and both his parents died by the time he was 17 and World War II was about to start. During the war, Gligoric joined the anti-Nazi guerrillas and put his chess career on hold.

After winning his first international tournament in Warsaw, Poland, in 1947, Gligoric became Yugoslavia's champion 12 times and played at 15 biennial Chess Olympiads, collecting one gold, six silver and five bronze medals. He was awarded the grandmaster title in 1951 and, according to Serbia's Chess Federation, secured 64 victories at international chess events.

After the former federation of Yugoslavia broke up in a civil war in the 1990s, Gligoric lived in his native Serbia.

Times wire reports