David Stern, the former commissioner of the US National Basketball Association (NBA), has died at the age of 77.
Stern died on Wednesday after suffering a brain hemorrhage on December 12 that required emergency surgery. His wife, Dianne, and their family were at his bedside when he died, the NBA said.
Stern took over as NBA commissioner in 1984 and oversaw the growth of the league from a struggling sport to an international powerhouse. He was NBA's longest-serving commissioner, holding the job for 30 years until retiring in 2014.
During his 30-year tenure, the NBA expanded from 23 to 30 teams, with its revenue increasing almost 30 times to 5 billion dollars. Stern also expanded the league's presence outside the U.S., with television broadcasts in more than 200 countries and regions.
Stern also presided over four NBA lockouts and led efforts to create two new leagues: the Women's National Basketball Association and the NBA Development League, now the G League.
"Without David Stern, the NBA would not be what it is today," said NBA legend and Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan. "He guided the league through turbulent times and grew the league into an international phenomenon, creating opportunities that few could have imagined before."
"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 I admired him for that," Jordan added.
"The game changed in so many ways under David Stern's leadership and vision," said former NBA star Kobe Bryant. "He demanded the best of everyone because he gave it himself."
"He fought for the game of basketball," said Grant Hill, another former star player and co-owner of the Atlanta Hawks. "He had a style about him, he had a passion, and he had a vision that this league could really transcend. It could reach all people. It could become a global game."
The same year Stern left the NBA, he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.