NEW YORK – NBA Commissioner Adam Silver issued the following statement today regarding the passing of longtime NBA league office executive Zelda Spoelstra, who passed away last night at the age of 88 after a long illness:
“Zelda Spoelstra was known as the ‘Angel of the NBA’ and advised every commissioner, including me, since the founding of the league. She began her NBA career in 1951 as an assistant to the NBA’s first commissioner, Maurice Podoloff, and remained a pioneering force in the league for nearly 70 years. She worked tirelessly to help secure pensions, arrange for medical assistance and develop retirement programs for generations of NBA players. Giants of our game, like George Mikan and Wilt Chamberlain, looked up to Zelda and she cultivated friendships with players of every era. Countless colleagues in the league office found in Zelda a trusted mentor and trailblazer whose wisdom, kindness and grace enriched their lives and careers.
“This year, Zelda was nominated for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, which previously honored her in 2004 with the John W. Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of her extraordinary efforts on behalf of NBA alumni. She was an NBA legend who will forever be part of the league’s history. We extend our heartfelt condolences to Zelda’s family and her many friends and former colleagues.”