Former NBA Commissioner David Stern, the man often credited with shepherding the league’s rapid growth in the 1980s, suffered a brain hemorrhage Thursday, the NBA announced.
“NBA Commissioner Emeritus David Stern suffered a sudden brain hemorrhage earlier today for which he underwent emergency surgery,” the league said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with David and his family.”
Stern, 77, spent 30 years as the league’s commissioner. He took over for Larry O’Brien on Feb. 1, 1984, and stepped down on Jan. 31, 2014. Silver became commissioner the next day.
The growth of the game under Stern, who was elected to Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2014, included seven expansion franchises, the relocation of six others, including the Clippers, and the building of 28 new arenas.
The league had four lockouts between the 1995 and 2011 during his tenure and instituted rules that included no longer drafting players out of high school, eliminating hand checks and establishing the draft lottery.
He also oversaw the creation of the WNBA and the NBA’s developmental league while expanding coverage around the world with lucrative television contracts, sponsorship deals, the playing of games overseas and by allowing NBA stars to play in the Olympics.