The NWBA sends its heartfelt condolences to the NBA family of former Commissioner David Stern who passed away on January 1 after suffering a brain hemorrhage on December 12 and undergoing surgery.
Stern served three full decades as the NBA's longest-tenured commissioner from 1984 until his retirement in 2014 when he was succeeded by Adam Silver. The man who guided the NBA to its current success was honored by the league with the title of Commissioner Emeritus.
From its debut in 1998 through 2015, the NBA All Star Weekend featured the NBA/NWBA All Star Wheelchair Classic and Stern always made it a priority to come visit the participating players and coaches.
In an interview for the FIBA Wheel World column in 2015, Dick Bryant, who previously served as the NWBA commissioner from 2002-2008 and as president from 2008-2012 says Stern enjoyed the game and was supportive of it.
"He always did a photo with the team and shook hands with everyone there. And you’re talking about someone who had a schedule to be everywhere," said Bryant.
Bryant also noted that Stern was a fan who paid attention even while his staff was waiting impatiently to whisk him away to his next appointment or appearance. "When he was there, he was in to watching the game and the skill of the players."
For the athletes, Bryant said there was, "a sense of pride for the players to be recognized and treated first class."
"David Stern was a leader, not just for the NBA but for all of basketball," said NWBA CEO Will Waller.
"The WNBA was founded under Stern's watch in 1996, fostering dramatic growth for women and girls in the game much as we strive to do for all persons with a disability regardless of gender.
"He envisioned the NBA playing a greater roll in the global game, which included NBA players participating in the Olympic Games. The growth of the basketball internationally has created professional career opportunities for so many American and Canadian wheelchair athletes which has brought positive benefits to our Paralympic teams as well as to our NWBA teams upon their return home.
"Even if indirect, Stern's legacy has had great impact upon the NWBA and we mourn his passing."