Larry O'Brien, who directed John F. Kennedy's campaign for president and later served for a decade as commissioner of the

National Basketball Association, has died at age 73.He died Thursday night of cancer at New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center, said Joseph Napolitan, a close friend.

O'Brien was named commissioner of the NBA in 1985.

He succeeded the late Walter Kennedy as NBA commissioner at a time when free agency and big money were reshaping pro sports.

It was with O'Brien's guidance that the NBA settled the so-called "Oscar Robertson suit" in 1976, which paved the way to free agency in the league. The NBA and its players association also reached a collective bargaining agreement.

He also supervised the NBA's merger with the rival American Basketball Association. In 1979, the NBA made the only major rule change of O'Brien's period as commissioner - the adoption of the three-point goal.

The next year, the league again expanded with the addition of the Dallas Mavericks.