It was the spring of 2017 when Patrick Baumann visited Staples Center as part of an International Olympic Committee delegation sent to assess Los Angeles’ bid for the Games.
Because Baumann doubled as an IOC executive and secretary-general of the international basketball federation, a few basketballs were produced for an impromptu shoot-around.
“I certainly failed miserably,” the good-natured Swiss official said.
Baumann, who would come to assume a central role in L.A.’s bid and then its early preparations for the 2028 Summer Games, died of a heart attack this weekend while attending the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires. He was 51.
“This is a great shock which has hit us all very hard,” IOC President Thomas Bach said. “We can hardly believe this terrible news.”
Seen as a rising star in the Olympic movement, Baumann could speak five languages and had earned degrees from the University of Chicago, the University of Lyon in France and the University of Lausanne in in his native country.
Serving on a number of important IOC commissions, he was considered as a possible successor to the president. In his role with the basketball federation, FIBA, he spearheaded innovations including the popularization of three-on-three competitions worldwide.
“Under his leadership, FIBA moved forward by leaps and bounds,” FIBA President Horacio Muratore said.
The IOC chose Baumann to head the evaluation commission for the 2024 bidding cycle, which ended with an unusual dual award as Paris was given 2024 and L.A. agreed to wait another four years.
At that point, Baumann was named chair of the 2028 coordination commission to oversee L.A.’s uncommon 10-year buildup.
LA 2028 chairman Casey Wasserman called him “an advocate for the Los Angeles Games who brought dynamic thinking, bold support and passion to the Olympic movement. Patrick was a partner and a friend.”
As recently as late August, Baumann was in Los Angeles to meet with organizers and tour several venues, stopping by the construction site for the Rams stadium in Inglewood.
“That is particularly extraordinary,” he told The Times after seeing the project. “It’s going to be a fantastic scene for sports.”
FIBA officials that Baumann, who is survived by a wife and two children, received immediate medical attention in Buenos Aires but could not be saved.
The IOC will hold a memorial at the Youth Games and fly its flag at half-staff for the next three days.
“Even today, we have seen him working hard, as we always knew him, for the sport he loved,” Bach said Sunday. “We lose a young and sympathetic leader full of hope who was standing for the future of sport.”