Former NBA commissioner David Stern was admitted to a New York City hospital Thursday afternoon after suffering a brain hemorrhage, the league announced.
“NBA Commissioner Emeritus David Stern suffered a sudden brain hemorrhage earlier today for which he underwent emergency surgery,” the NBA said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with David and his family.”
New York’s fire department responded to a 911 call at a Midtown restaurant at 1:59 p.m. ET. Fire officials then transported the 77-year-old Stern to Mount Sinai West medical center.
The league had no update on his condition Friday.
Stern served as NBA commissioner from 1984 until 2014, a 30-year run that helped shape the league into the global force it is today. Under his watch, the NBA added seven teams and relocated six other franchises. The league’s annual revenue from its television contract increased by 40 times, the average player salary jumped from $250,000 a year in 1984 to more than $5 million, and the value of franchises skyrocketed.
People in and around the league offered prayers of support for Stern, with Hall of Famer Magic Johnson tweeting that he and wife Cookie were praying “for my good friend who helped save my life.”
Johnson announced he was retiring because of HIV in 1991 but returned the following year at the All-Star Game with Stern’s backing, even while some players were concerned about playing against him for health reasons. Johnson would later return to the league with Stern’s support.
Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle also offered strong words of support, saying, “The thoughts and prayers of the Dallas organization are with commissioner David Stern. I was with him a month ago yesterday in New York, we had a couple of days between games, I actually sat with him in his office in New York, I consider him a great friend and obviously a great friend of the game.”
The NBA took off globally under Stern, who was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2014.
The league opened 13 offices worldwide, staged regular-season games outside the U.S. — a first in professional sports — and allowed its players to compete in the Olympics, notably the gold medal-winning “Dream Team” in 1992. He also founded the WNBA in 1997. He had a hand in numerous initiatives that changed the league, including drug testing, the salary cap and implementation of a dress code.
He wouldn’t even let staffers use the word “retire” when he left his office, because he never intended to stop working. He has kept an office in New York and regularly travels into the city for work on the projects he pursued once he turned the league over to Adam Silver on Feb. 1, 2014.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.