SBD/August 20, 2012/People and Pop Culture

Former NBA Deputy Commissioner, NBPA Exec Dir Simon Gourdine Dead At 72

Gourdine was part of negotiations that created the NBA's first free agency system
Former NBA Deputy Commissioner and Players Association Exec Dir SIMON GOURDINE has died at the age of 72. Gourdine joined the NBA in '70, and was named NBA Deputy Commissioner in '74, becoming the highest ranking African American exec in sports at the time. Gourdine in '76 was part of the landmark collective bargaining negotiations that created the NBA's first free agency system, an agreement that also saw the NBA absorb four ABA franchises (NBA). In N.Y., Richard Goldstein notes Gourdine resigned from the NBA “at the end of the 1981, when his contract was expiring.” He returned in ’90 as the “NBA players union counsel.” He then became “executive director in April 1995, replacing CHARLES GRANTHAM, who resigned in the midst of stalled contract talks.” Gourdine negotiated “a tentative long-term collective bargaining agreement in the summer of 1995, and he was awarded a two-year contract as executive director by the union’s executive board late that year.” But player representatives “rejected the deal, and he was ousted early in 1996.” An arbitration panel “later awarded him nearly $900,000 in unpaid salary” (N.Y. TIMES, 8/20).’s Steve Aschburner noted Gourdine “took over the top job and negotiated the labor deal that ended the 1995 lockout and instituted the NBA’s first rookie wage scale.” But he was “forced out by a group of players and their agents, including PATRICK EWING and MICHAEL JORDAN, who felt the deal favored the owners and had urged the decertification of the union.” Gourdine later joked, “I was fired by Patrick Ewing” (, 8/19).
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