Latest Posts

How Adam Silver evolves after Robert Sarver decision will determine his tenure as NBA commissioner

- Advertisement -

“With immediate effect, I ban Mr. Sterling… for life.”

Never before has a sports commissioner sounded so fierce, so strong and so strong as Adam Silver at that moment.

- Advertisement -

In 2014, he was just 87 days old when he issued an unprecedented fine to then Clippers owner Donald Sterling after making racist comments. Silver cashed in on capital he had yet to make with NBA team owners as a rookie in the game caretaker position, but set the tone — even if it was more symbolic and idealistic.

- Advertisement -

“I am personally appalled that the views expressed by Mr. Sterling come from an institution that has historically played a leading role in matters of race relations,” Silver said that day. “And made current and former NBA players, coaches, fans and partners question their very connection to the league.”

- Advertisement -

He could have echoed the same quote after Robert Sarver’s violations of racism, sexism, employee abuse and near-physical assault when he imposed a $10 million fine and a year’s suspension.

But he bent over. If someone thought that he was anything but an employee of the team owners, he made it clear. Jeanie Bass won’t question it, and neither will Steve Ballmer. If anyone could find James Dolan, getting a comment from him would be like seeing the Loch Ness Monster aka Leon Rose show up for a real public account.

That’s what money is for, Mr. Silver.

Calling Sarver’s behavior “unjustified,” he said he believes Sarver has “evolved” over his 18 years as owner of Suns – although Sarver was proven to have used the “N-word” as recently as 2017. and talked about “blowjobs”. “in 2021.

“I have no right to take his team,” Silver said. “I don’t want to dwell on this legal point, because, of course, in this league there can be a procedure that allows you to take someone’s team. It is very difficult, and in the end I decided that it would not reach this level.”

The fine, as evidenced by Sarver’s displeasure quote, was a compromise, the maximum Silver could get from his superiors.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver presided over punishments of the two team owners, with very different results.  (Quinn Harris/USA TODAY Sports)
NBA commissioner Adam Silver presided over punishments of the two team owners, with very different results. (Quinn Harris/USA TODAY Sports)

Silver will never be as popular as he was on that day eight years ago, as he didn’t look like he was working for the team owners or even playing for the players. It seemed that his personal indignation guided his decisions, that no influence could compromise his values.

He rode the wave, as it was our introduction to the new leader of the changing NBA, and contributed to the image. This moment was created by special circumstances that we seemed to ignore when we canonized him.

When he got up and stumbled on his words on Wednesday, wrestling between his personal preferences and his duty as a janitor, it became clear that he did not represent either extremes, and certainly not someone who wanted to present to the court of public opinion the case that Sarver on really belongs in this exclusive club.

Sarver has benefited, as Sterling has suffered, from hidden outside factors. Silver, a top-notch lawyer and diplomat, watched as the NBA team owners, in a sense, took back the league.

The pendulum swing, the revenue shortfall that began with Daryl Morey’s billion-dollar faux pas in China, continued with the pandemic and left NBA players with more hands-on power than ever before back toward 30 franchise owners. Silver, who understands the moment as well as any other person in his position, did his best to make sure everything went on as usual – even in sloppy and unscripted moments.

And he was in hand when Silver probably got what he could from the other members, with no chance of Sarver’s transgressions leading to a vote on the possibility of excommunication.

The show must go on and business must continue to thrive. Silver needs to get and keep his bosses on the same wavelength, as there are bound to be battles within the company, even if they are tasked with presenting a united front, as collective bargaining negotiations are coming.

The expansion is the talk of the day, along with a new TV rights deal that seems to be going unnoticed. One team owner believes small markets could clash with big markets as the possibility of an NFL-style national television deal was discussed in passing compared to individual television deal teams in their respective regions.

This means that Silver has big problems to solve in his own board of directors. Nothing catastrophic, but the goal is to curry favor and keep the drama from escalating.

This is a tipping point, whether he is halfway to power or only a third of the way. His predecessor, David Stern, started out as a visionary who took the league up at home and abroad, but ended up as an old man who lost his grip and was out of touch. Silver’s chief contemporary, NFL Roger Goodell once featured on the cover of Time magazine under the headline “The Enforcer”. Now he sits like a toothless figurehead who has surpassed his coverage in terms of playing discipline. The further development of Silver will determine his perception.

The defining moment for Stern was how he handled Magic Johnson’s HIV diagnosis and embraced Johnson, paving the way for a new narrative. It was seven years of his leadership and there were so many achievements in the development of the game in his back pocket.

In theory, Stern could rule with an iron fist. He made the rich rich and turned the players into global icons. His imperial charm was rarely questioned in his prime, and he often presented an angelic, if not cocky, public image. Silver has another class to manage and is often manipulated for good. They are already outrageously wealthy and expect more from these large investments.

David Stern (right) ruled with an iron fist as NBA commissioner, while Adam Silver (left) walks a fine line after Robert Sarver's decision.  (AP Photo/John Mincillo)
David Stern (right) ruled with an iron fist as NBA commissioner, while Adam Silver (left) walks a fine line after Robert Sarver’s decision. (AP Photo/John Mincillo)

He was perhaps even more idealistic than Stern, who sought to persuade white America to welcome black athletes into their homes. Silver walks a fine line, having free will, if not the power, to control the 30 team owners who are his bosses. He will say that his biggest responsibility is to be the steward of the game. For it to move, to be a beacon that maintains stability in a sports environment that moves faster than ever, faster than ever.

But his true responsibility is to work for these 30 separate businesses, keep the money train going, and give the illusion of control without being in control.

It’s hard to imagine him as a cold, tough businessman as he hangs out during the NBA 75 All-Star Weekend celebration, as much of a fan as any League Pass subscriber. Matching his image of commanding a Board of Governors meeting with the tender conversations he often had with the late Bill Russell is difficult to reconcile, given all the racial strife Russell had to endure, both in the name of the team he played for and in the name of the league. which he represented.

All of these pieces of the puzzle are mutually exclusive, but the pieces create a photograph of a man who, for one of the few times since he took command, found real conflict, knowing that what he did was the only acceptable solution.

If Silver hadn’t had a moral compass, the words wouldn’t have seemed so broken, so blocked, so contradictory. It was a loss he had to accept, stymied in a corner he didn’t choose but accepted nonetheless.

Being an unscrupulous sycophant for team owners doesn’t seem to suit a diplomat in Silver, but business always comes first. The way Silver conducts his business from now on will show what means the most to him.


- Advertisement -

Latest Posts

Don't Miss