Feb 1 (Reuters) - A new era began for the National Basketball Association (NBA) on Saturday when David Stern's 30-year run as commissioner ended with his deputy, Adam Silver, taking over the helm.
Stern had stated in October 2012 his intention to retire after exactly 30 years in charge and the league's owners unanimously approved Silver as his successor.
The handover was officially confirmed by the NBA on its Twitter account on Saturday with a picture of Silver, holding a basketball, shaking hands with Stern, who is the league's longest-serving commissioner.
Above the photograph, a caption read: "It's official: Adam Silver succeeds David Stern as #NBA Commissioner."
The league will now begin using game balls bearing Silver's signature.
Stern, 71, said in a statement: "It is a source of great satisfaction to me that the NBA will now be led by commissioner Adam Silver, for whom I have tremendous admiration, respect and expectations as he and his experienced and dedicated team take the NBA to successes that were unimaginable even a short while ago."
Stern had presided over a period of expansion and growth for the NBA, both domestically and internationally, and in 2011 he concluded a new Collective Bargaining Agreement with players after a five-month lockout.
During his tenure, six NBA franchises were relocated (Clippers, Kings, Grizzlies, Nets, Hornets and Sonics) while seven new teams were brought in (Hornets, Timberwolves, Heat, Magic, Grizzlies, Raptors and Bobcats).
Stern's departure on Feb. 1 marked the 30th anniversary of his takeover as commissioner from Larry O'Brien.
Silver has been an NBA executive for 21 years and the league's deputy commissioner and chief operating officer since July 2006.
The 51-year-old Silver previously had eight years as president and chief operating officer of NBA Entertainment, the film production arm of the league.
According to the league, Silver had played a key role in the negotiations of the NBA's last two television agreements.
"The opportunities for this league are truly limitless. I'm honored, thrilled and will do my absolute best to grow this league, and this industry, only try to do it the same way David has done over the past 30 years," said Silver. (Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Gene Cherry)