NEW YORK (AP) — Simon Gourdine, who became deputy commissioner of the NBA in 1974 and went on to work for and lead the players' association in the 1990s, has died. He was 72.
The NBA confirmed Gourdine died on Thursday, though the cause of death was not released. He was living in the Bronx.
Gourdine became the NBA's attorney in 1970 and was hired as deputy commissioner by Commissioner Walter Kennedy. At the time, he was the highest-ranking black executive in professional sports.
He helped negotiate a labor deal that created free agency in the NBA in 1976
He left the NBA in 1981, but returned to pro basketball in 1990 as general counsel for the National Basketball Players Association. In 1995, he became executive director, negotiating an end to the NBA lockout.
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