David Stern is stepping down in February 2014 as NBA commissioner after a 30-year run.
The NBA announced the move Thursday at its Board of Governors meeting in New York.
"It's been a great run," Stern said. "The league is in terrific condition."
Replacing Stern will be deputy commissioner Adam Silver, who will work with the outgoing commissioner during the transition.
"There's no doubt that you'll be remembered as the best of all time," said Silver. "You've set the standard."
The Board of Governors unanimously approved the move, chairman Glen Taylor announced. Formal approval of Silver, who worked with the league for 20 years, will come in April.
Stern, 70, took the job on Feb. 1, 1984, and served in the commissioner's role longer than any of his predecessors. His official retirement date will be Feb. 1, 2014.
Stern has overseen unprecedented growth of the league as an international brand with unparalleled popularity.
"I thought one year for each of the 30 teams in the NBA was about all I could say," Stern said. "Things are in great shape, and there's an orgainization in place that will ultimately be led by Adam that is totally prepared to take it to the next level. I didn't feel comfortable leaving prior to (negotiating the new) Collective Bargaining Agreement, and this seemed to be a great time."
Stern will remain involved with the league as a consultant after his retirement.
"I told the owners yesterday in executive session, I told them that it's been a great run, it will continue for another 15 months, that the league is in, I think, terrific condition," Stern said. "I like to think I did an adequate job, but one of the things I did best was to provide a successor that would be able to take the kind of things we now look at as huge growth opportunities."