Former NBA commissioner David Stern, credited with establishing WNBA, dies at age of 77

NBA Cares Amabassador Isaiah Austin and former NBA Commissioner David Stern

The basketball world, the sports world and the business world all began 2020 with some sad news.

David Stern, who served as NBA commissioner from 1984 to 2014 and is credited with the creation of the WNBA in the mid to late 1990s, died at the age of 77, the league announced.

Three weeks ago, Stern suffered a brain hemorrhage and was taken to a hospital in New York City. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN had reported that he was at a Manhattan restaurant before he collapsed.

In addition to the WNBA’s creation, Stern is also credited with the NBA’s exponential growth into an international sport as well as into a juggernaut financially. Not only has basketball grown from the “city game” into a global game, it is also a year-round sport as well between the NBA, WNBA, G-League and Summer League.

Stern joined the NBA in 1978 and succeeded Larry O’Brien as commissioner after a four-year tenure as the NBA’s executive vice president of business and legal affairs. He was born in New York and earned a bachelor’s degree from Rutgers plus a law degree from Columbia.

His tenure was not without controversy – including the veto of a trade in 2011 that would have sent Chris Paul from the New Orleans Hornets, which the league owned at the time, to the Los Angeles Lakers. Another controversial moment during his time as commissioner happened in the late 2000s when the Seattle Supersonics were relocated to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder.

Stern was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2014 – the final year of his tenure as commissioner.

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