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Michael Goldberg, who led the basketball coaches’ association, dies at 73

Michael Goldberg in 2014. (Karen Marrero /National Basketball Coaches Association)

Michael Goldberg, who served as executive director of the National Basketball Coaches Association for more than 30 years and helped engineer the 1976 merger of the National Basketball Association and American Basketball Association, died Jan. 20 at his home in New York City. He was 73.

His death was announced by the NBCA. The cause was ­reportedly cancer.

Earlier in the week, the NBCA announced that the coach-of-the-year award would be named for Mr. Goldberg. The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame also announced that he would receive its lifetime achievement award this year.

In 1974, Mr. Goldberg became general counsel of the ABA, an unexciting but struggling league that challenged the pre-eminence of the older NBA. Two years later, he helped negotiate a merger of four ABA teams into the NBA.

Mr. Goldberg took over as executive director of the NBCA in 1980. He strengthened the coaches’ retirement and insurance plans and helped secure marketing opportunities for them.

“He advocated relentlessly for NBA coaches and was one of the driving forces behind the league’s global growth,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement.

Michael Harris Goldberg was born March 16, 1943, in New York. He was a graduate of New York University and the St. John’s University law school.

He worked for the Securities and Exchange Commission before becoming the ABA’s general counsel.

In the 1970s, he opened a sports marketing agency, which he continued to operate after becoming the head of the NBCA. His clients included American Express, sportscasters and several sports leagues, as well as gold-medal Olympic gymnast Mary Lou Retton.

“I got her her Wheaties box,” Mr. Goldberg told New York magazine in 2015.

Survivors include his wife, Linda Wittenberg; two daughters; and two grandsons.

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