David Stern, who ran the N.B.A. for 30 years as its commissioner, had emergency surgery on Thursday after a sudden brain hemorrhage, the league announced in a statement.
According to a spokesman for the New York City Fire Department, a 911 call was made at 1:59 p.m. from 9 West 57th Street, just south of Central Park. Stern was transported to Mount Sinai West hospital. There was no immediate word on his condition.
Stern, 77, ran the N.B.A. from 1984 to 2014, helping to transform it from a sleepy league where playoff games were on tape delay into a global behemoth. During his tenure the N.B.A. expanded from 23 teams to 30, opened offices all around the world and saw revenues, salaries and team valuations grow exponentially.
In 1985, Jerry Reinsdorf purchased the Chicago Bulls for $16 million. In 2014, shortly after Stern stepped down, Steve Ballmer paid $2 billion for the Los Angeles Clippers.
The league was struggling when Stern took over. The N.B.A. had been challenged by the insurgent American Basketball Association and suffered from the perception (and sometimes reality) that many of its players were using drugs. A majority-white country also seemed resistant to watching a league of mostly black athletes. Average attendance was barely over 10,000.
But months after Stern became commissioner, the Bulls drafted a guard from North Carolina named Michael Jordan who, alongside Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, led to a surge in popularity. When Stern left the league in 2014, it was safely in the hands of a new generation of superstars like LeBron James and Kevin Durant.
That day was Feb. 1, 2014 — exactly 30 years to the day since he became commissioner — and Stern turned over the reins to his longtime deputy, Adam Silver.
After leaving the N.B.A., Stern stayed involved in sports as an investor who was especially interested in new technologies that would change the game. Stern had seen how cable television had transformed professional basketball — months after he left, the league signed a nine-year, $24 billion television agreement with ESPN and TNT — and he was on the lookout for what was next.
Working out of an office in midtown Manhattan, he has invested in over a dozen sports tech start-ups, ranging from a company that lets anybody call play-by-play on a game to a basketball shot-tracking firm.
His investment fund is named Micromanagement Ventures Portfolio, or M.V.P., both a sports reference and a wry joke about his well-known leadership style.
Born in New York City and raised in New Jersey, Stern grew up attending Knicks games at Madison Square Garden. After graduating from Columbia Law School in 1966, he went to work at the law firm Proskauer Rose, which has long been the N.B.A.’s outside counsel. He worked on a number of basketball cases over 12 years before leaving Proskauer Rose in 1978 to become the league’s general counsel.
He quickly rose through the ranks, and succeeded Larry O’Brien as commissioner in 1984.
Stern could be an autocratic workaholic who did not suffer fools lightly. He yelled at co-workers, team executives and reporters. Rod Thorn, a longtime N.B.A. executive, last year described Stern as “abrasive.”
He also had his missteps, and detractors. Under Stern, the N.B.A. twice locked out its players, in 1999 and 2011, both leading to lost games. He implemented a dress code in 2015 that many viewed as racist, and the referee Tim Donaghy was arrested in 2007 as part of a point-shaving scandal. In 2008, the Seattle SuperSonics were allowed to decamp for Oklahoma City, and the city of Seattle has still not forgiven Stern.
He has been married to his wife, Dianne, for 56 years, and has two children, Eric and Andrew, both of whom attended law school. Stern oversaw the launch of the W.N.B.A. in 1997 and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2014.