Former NBA commissioner, David Stern, passed away on Wednesday following a brain hemorrhage he sustained in December — he was 77-years-old. In the wake of his death, teams and players around the association instantly paid tribute to the league’s longtime commissioner, including the Houston Rockets.
While some took to social media to pay their respect to Stern, Rockets’ C.E.O., Tad Brown, expressed his condolences with the media on Thursday.
“Commissioner Stern was just an amazing guy. You look over his 30 years as commissioner, I don’t think there has been a commissioner in professional sports who’s had that kind of impact and change agent for the growth of a sport. He was tough. He was fair. And he always acted in what he thought was for the best interest of the game. And for that, we’re all better throughout the league.” - Brown.
#Rockets C.E.O Tad Brown on the passing of David Stern: "I don't think there has been a commissioner in professional sports who's had that kind of impact and change agent for the growth of a sport." pic.twitter.com/dv0pu2Anb7— Coty Davis (@CotyDavis_24) January 2, 2020
Stern served as commissioner for 30 years after succeeding Larry O’Brien in 1984. Under Stern’s leadership, the NBA expanded from 22 to 30 teams and experienced a tremendous leap in revenue share.
However, Stern’s most significant achievement during his tenure was bridging the gap between the league and international markets. The NBA opened 12 offices outside the United States and paved the way for international players such as Yao Ming to leave their mark on the league.
“He meant so much to this league and it is hard to sum up in a few sound bites. The biggest thing to me is how he was involved in the international game early and opened up international markets to bring so many great players over from Europe, he really opened that market up.” - Mike D’Antoni
“Very sad and prayers to his family. We all know how legendary he was, and he did so much for the game. As a kid growing up, you always dreamt of walking across that stage and have your name called by David Stern. To experience that moment with him was pretty cool.” - Harden.
In addition to leaving behind a legacy engraved in basketball immortality until the end of time, David Stern is survived by his wife of 56 years, Dianne Stern, and their two sons, Andrew and Eric Stern.