The National Basketball Association's Board of Governors meeting in conjunction with Sundays All-Star Game, today voted to give commissioner Larry O'Brien a new seven-year contract for approximately $2 million.
In other matters, the governors voted to approve Ted Turner's purchase of majority interest in the Atlanta Hawks and elected owner Irv Levin of the Boston Celtics as the league's chairman of the board, succeeding Bill Alverson, who had resigned as chairman of the board of the Milwaukee Bucks earlier this season.
O'Brien contract had 1 1/2h years to run, but the board decided to reward him with a new agreement.
"This sets forth the great esteem and appreciation the board has of the job he has done in 1 1/2 years as commissioner," Levin said. "We're happy to have the commissioner accept a new seven-year contract in the vicinity of $2 million."
O'Brien was instrumental in bringing about the merger of the rival American Basketball Association and the NBA and in settling the sport's labor conflict.
"The board also voted a new five-year contract for Simon Gourdine as deputy commissioner," Levin said. "in appreciation for the many years of excellent service he has rendered."
Gourdine also received a "substantial increase in salary," according to Levin, but no figure was given.
Turner, 38, purchased baseball's Atlanta Braves over a year ago, but was suspended by baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn for actions in regard to his pursuit of free-agent outfielder Gary Matthews.
O'Brien said Turner's baseball activities were discussed by the board.
"The procedure of the NBA is to review all aspects of new ownership," O'Brien said. "In that context, his situation with baseball was discussed. The board gave the overall matter microscopic review.
"The finance committee reviewed the prospective purchase last night and found that Turner met all our financial requirements. In addition, it was found that he was held in high esteem by both his community and his business associates."
Still on the board's agenda was a reexamination of the balanced schedule being used this season.
A revision of the league's schedule also was discussed, but the Board decided to take no immediate action.
The balanced schedule, where each team plays each other team in the league the same number of times regardless of division or conference, has come under some fire lately.
Its opponents say it creates more long-distance road trips, which are more costly, and that it prevents local, intradivisional rivalries from developing. It has also been given as a reason why home teams are winning significanty more games this season than in recent years.