Statements by Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment after the passing of David Stern.

NBA Commissioner Emeritus David Stern passed away at age 77 on Jan. 1, 2020, as a result of a brain hemorrhage he suffered approximately three weeks ago. Stern, who took over as commissioner in 1984, presided over the league for 30 years before stepping down in 2014. 

“It was rare to see a leader with such great vision, who then also executed it,” Toronto Raptors President Masai Ujiri said. “Everyone who plays, works in or watches the NBA owes a debt of gratitude to Mr. Stern. The league that we know and love would not exist without his dedication, his hard work, and most especially his vision. He was transcendent. He oversaw the expansion of our league to Canada. 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. We are proud of what he did, and his death pains us. On behalf of our entire organization and all basketball fans across Canada, we send plenty blessings to his family.”

During Stern’s tenure as commissioner, the NBA welcomed seven new franchises to the league, including the Toronto Raptors in 1995. Larry Tanenbaum, Chairman, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment and NBA Governor also released the following statement:

“Canadians will not forget that it was David Stern who oversaw the expansion of the NBA to Canada, and that it was David Stern who declared that the Toronto franchise would be a success – we are grateful he was able to see our team thrive, and his prediction ultimately came true. David’s vision for our league was a global one, and we were among the very first beneficiaries of that vision. He set the tone for the modern NBA: focused on excellence, driven to exceed expectations, socially conscious, and determined to have an impact on and off the court. Masai has spoken about how everyone who loves the NBA owes David a debt of gratitude – I agree wholeheartedly. Over the 30 years that David and I spent working together, I came to rely on his intelligence, resolve, good humour and candor. We, and the Canadian basketball community, will miss him greatly.”

Tanenbaum also released the following statement on behalf of the NBA Board of Governors:

“The NBA Board of Governors mourn David Stern’s passing and extend heartfelt condolences to his wife Dianne, their sons Andrew and Eric, and their family.  All our teams have benefitted from David’s vision, tenacity and wisdom as he led the transformation of the NBA into a global league and a thriving business.  David brilliantly managed relationships with team owners, players and partners and brought all stakeholders together to work toward the common goal of growing basketball around the world.  He will be deeply missed.”

In addition to overseeing seven new franchises enter the league, Stern also oversaw the creation of the WNBA and the NBA Development League, now known as the G League. He was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2014. 

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver released the following statement:

“For 22 years, I had a courtside seat to watch David in action.  He was a mentor and one of my dearest friends. We spent countless hours in the office, at arenas and on planes wherever the game would take us.  Like every NBA legend, David had extraordinary talents, but with him it was always about the fundamentals – preparation, attention to detail, and hard work.

“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.  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.

“Every member of the NBA family is the beneficiary of David’s vision, generosity and inspiration.  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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