Former NBA commissioner David Stern dies at 77

Courtesy: (AP Photo/Matt Sayles)
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NEW YORK (AP) David Stern, the basketball-loving lawyer who took the NBA around the world during 30 years as its longest-serving commissioner and oversaw its growth into a global powerhouse, died Wednesday. He was 77.

Stern suffered a brain hemorrhage on Dec. 12 and underwent emergency surgery. The league said he died with his wife, Dianne, and their family at his bedside.

''The entire basketball community is heartbroken,'' the National Basketball Players Association said. ''David Stern earned and deserved inclusion in our land of giants.''

Stern had been involved with the NBA for nearly two decades before he became its fourth commissioner on Feb. 1, 1984. By the time he left his position in 2014 - he wouldn't say or let league staffers say ''retire,'' because he never stopped working - a league that fought for a foothold before him had grown to a more than $5 billion a year industry and made NBA basketball perhaps the world's most popular sport after soccer.

''Because of David, the NBA is a truly global brand - making him not only one of the greatest sports commissioners of all time, but also one of the most influential business leaders of his generation,'' said Adam Silver, who followed Stern as commissioner. ''Every member of the NBA family is the beneficiary of David's vision, generosity and inspiration.''

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