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Former NBA commissioner David Stern dead at 77: NBA

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New York (AFP)

David Stern, who masterminded the NBA's growth into a global sports powerhouse while serving as commissioner from 1984 to 2014, died Wednesday after suffering a brain hemorrhage last month. He was 77.

The NBA, whose championship games were not televised live in the United States when Stern's 30-year tenure began, announced his passing, which came with his family at his bedside.

Stern, who underwent emergency surgery after he was stricken December 12, built the league into a global sporting empire by the time he retired on February 1, 2014, and passed leadership to current commissioner Adam Silver, who has worked for the NBA since 1992.

"David took over the NBA in 1984 with the league at a crossroads, but over the course of 30 years as commissioner he ushered in the modern global NBA," Silver said in a statement.

"He launched groundbreaking media and marketing partnerships, digital assets and social responsibility programs that have brought the game to billions of people around the world.

"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."

Stern boosted corporate backing for the league, helped by taking charge the same year Michael Jordan joined the NBA to begin a legendary career on the court.

He oversaw expansion of the league, the debut of active NBA talent in the Olympics and the sport's expansion to a popular worldwide telvision phenomenon.

"Every member of the NBA family is the beneficiary of David's vision, generosity and inspiration," Silver said.

"Our deepest condolences go out to David's wife, Dianne, their sons, Andrew and Eric, and their extended family, and we share our grief with everyone whose life was touched by him."

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