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Former NBA commissioner David Stern dead at 77

Last Updated Jan 1, 2020 at 7:08 pm EDT

In this Wednesday, May 15, 2013 file photo, NBA Commissioner David Stern takes a question from a reporter during a news conference following an NBA Board of Governors meeting in Dallas. The NBA says former Commissioner David Stern suffered a sudden brain hemorrhage Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019 and underwent emergency surgery. The league says in a statement its thoughts and prayers are with the 77-year-old Stern's family. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez, File)

David Stern, who spent 30 years as the NBA’s longest-serving commissioner and oversaw its growth into a global power, has died on New Year’s Day. He was 77.

The league says Stern died Wednesday with his family by his side. He suffered a brain hemorrhage on Dec. 12 and underwent emergency surgery.

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, a league that had struggled for a foothold had grown into a more than $5 billion a year industry and made NBA basketball perhaps the world’s most popular sport after soccer.

Stern had a hand in nearly every initiative to do that, including drug testing, the salary cap and implementation of a dress code.

The trained lawyer helped the league become televised in more than 200 countries and territories, and in more than 40 languages.

In Toronto, Raptors president Masai Ujiri said the league owes a debt of gratitude to Stern.

“He oversaw the expansion of our league to Canada,” said Ujiri. “He knew there was basketball talent around the world and he saw opportunity for players and fans everywhere – he is a great, global giant in sports.”