Richard Bloch Dies Aged 89
Richard Bloch, the man responsible for establishing the Phoenix Suns, has passed away at the age of 89. The sad news was announced on Tuesday.
Richard Bloch managed to set up an NBA franchise in Phoenix, Arizona, despite opposition and derision.
Famously, Richard Bloch brought the idea to then-NBA commissioner Walter Kennedy, who couldn’t fathom the idea.
“Phoenix? You must be crazy,” he said. “Phoenix will never support pro basketball.”
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However, Bloch persevered, and he got his wish in 1968. It was announced on January 22nd of that year that the NBA approved franchise expansions in Phoenix and Milwaukee.
The Phoenix Suns were the first professional sports franchise in the state of Arizona, thanks to Bloch. Jerry Colangelo was hired as the team’s first ever general manager, and the rest is history.
Bloch and the Phoenix ownership group maintained ownership until 1987. Then, they sold the franchise to a group led by Colangelo.
“Richard was a key person in the development of the NBA,” said NBA Commissioner Emeritus David J. Stern
“Not just because he brought basketball to Phoenix and opened up the NBA’s southern strategy, but because he was designated by Larry O’Brien to lead the way to solving very difficult issues.
“When Larry wanted to solve the [Oscar] Robertson litigation, he appointed Dick, among others, to a committee to do that. When he wanted to be involved in collective bargaining, he would use Dick. Dick became a point man on every issue for the NBA’s growth leading to his being the chairman of the Board [of Governors] from 1983 to 1986. He was a vital, vital catalyst for the growth of the NBA.”
“Somebody was there when I was appointed commissioner who had been through all of the issues that I was going to be tasked with.
“He was a source of knowledge and sometimes comfort and sometimes just plain laughter because he had a wonderful sense of humor. He was very much a mentor to me when I became commissioner. I can’t say how much he meant to me as a businessman and as a friend and how I mourn his death.”