GOURDINE--Simon. The National Basketball Association mourns the loss and celebrates the life of former NBA Deputy Commissioner and Players Association Executive Director Simon Gourdine, who passed away on August 16. He was 72 years old. Following two years of service in the U.S. Army, where he attained the rank of captain and received the Army Commendation Medal, and three years as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York, Mr. Gourdine joined the NBA in 1970 as assistant to the commissioner and became vice president of administration in 1973. He was named deputy commissioner in 1974, becoming the highest-ranking African-American executive in sports at the time. In 1976, he was part of the landmark collective bargaining negotiations that created the league's first free agency system, an agreement that also saw the NBA absorb four ABA franchises. Mr. Gourdine left the NBA in 1981 and became commissioner of the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs in 1982. He went on to serve as secretary of the Rockefeller Foundation and director of labor relations for New York's Metropolitan Transit Authority before returning to professional basketball in 1990 as the general counsel of the National Basketball Players Association. He was named its executive director in 1995 and negotiated a new collective bargaining agreement on behalf of the Players Association later that year. The NBA family has lost an innovator and a great friend. We send our deepest condolences to Mr. Gourdine's wife, Pat; their children David, Peter and Laura; and the entire Gourdine family.
Published in The New York Times on Aug. 22, 2012