Tributes have been paid to the head of the basketball’s global governing body FIBA Patrick Baumann after his death from a heart attack in Buenos Aires.

The 51-year-old had been the organisation’s Secretary-General since 2003 and was also a member of the International Olympic Committee.

Baumann, who lobbied hard for the pact between the UK home nations to field a single Great Britain team, was visiting the sport climbing event at the Youth Olympics when he took ill and failed to respond to medical treatment.

FIBA President Horacio Muratore said: “On behalf of the entire FIBA family, I wish to express our deepest sympathies and pass on our condolences to Patrick’s wife Patricia, their family and loved ones. Our thoughts and prayers are with them during this very difficult time.

“Patrick was a lot more than FIBA’s Secretary General and an IOC member. He was a very close friend of mine as well as to countless people in the basketball family and the wider sport community.

“Under his leadership, FIBA moved forward by leaps and bounds, with the organization modernizing itself to the extent of becoming a model which fellow International Federations followed.

“Patrick was at the forefront of FIBA making radical changes to its governance structure, successfully building and moving into its own state-of-the-art Headquarters outside of Geneva as well as launching 3×3, its urban discipline which became a part of basketball’s program at the Olympics. He was also instrumental in the process of ‘ONE FIBA’, the coming together of all of FIBA’s Regional Offices into one corporate group, with everyone looking and heading in the same direction for the best interests of our beloved sport. Last but not least, he led the way in the creation and implementation of FIBA’s New Competition System.

“For all of this and for so much more, FIBA is forever indebted to Patrick. Without doubt we would not be where we are today were it not for everything that he did. His unwavering commitment, tireless work ethic and pure passion for basketball mean he will forever have his place in FIBA’s history.”

A Swiss national born on August 5, 1967, Baumann was a former player, coach and referee who first joined FIBA as a lawyer in 1994 and was appointed FIBA Deputy Secretary General in 1995.

In 2002, he was unanimously appointed FIBA Secretary General by the FIBA Central Board. As such, he became only the third FIBA Secretary General, after Dr. William Jones and Borislav Stankovic.

He led a revolution of FIBA following the Stankovic era, pursuing a more commercial agenda that included a shake-up of the international schedule. However a centralisation of power in Geneva, which stripped away the powers of each continent, proved controversial while he pitted the organisation against leading European clubs over what many perceived to be an expensive vanity project in the Basketball Champions League.

Outside of his own sport, he won respect for his breadth of activity across other sports, including leading Sport Accord, and was tipped as a possible future president of the IOC despite signing a long-term contract extension at FIBA earlier this year.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said: “We were just together for the first FIBA World Basketball Summit in Xian, China — an event he established to bring together basketball stakeholders from around the world.  Nobody was more dedicated to the growth of basketball than Patrick.

“He loved the game and recognized its power to transform people’s lives.  He was also a dear friend and colleague who I attended countless games and events with over the past 20 years.  The NBA family mourns the loss of Patrick and we send our heartfelt condolences to his wife Patricia, his children Bianca and Paul, and his many friends in the basketball and Olympic communities.”

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