Adam Silver, NBA facing dire consequences from the rapidly changing landscape

By | March 26, 2024

The phrase “unintended consequences” became ingrained in the minds of many NBA people eight years ago, when a spike in the salary cap led to Kevin Durant signing as a free agent with the Golden State Warriors, as if a major crime had been committed.

Should Commissioner Adam Silver call the rework and recent developments “expected impacts”?

According to ESPN, Raptors forward Jontay Porter is under investigation by the NBA for issues related to his performance that parallel gambling. On the one hand, gambling organizations monitored things so closely that they were able to spot the inconsistencies very quickly, so they could be caught before things really got out of hand – if there was any misconduct.

On the other hand, the NBA and every other professional sports league are so entrenched in the gambling space that it felt like something had to be done. Gambling has always existed, so there is no moral position against it, at least not in this area.

And it’s so profitable that the NBA would be foolish to ignore the financial benefits, but there are certainly downsides.

Rudy Gobert insinuating all things gambling to the officials is a horrible sight, and Cavaliers coach JB Bickerstaff pointing out that fans (or gamblers) find his phone number to call him and even insinuate things about his family during a parlay is a matter for the competition. seriously and at the same time guarantee the safety of all its employees.

January 11, 2024;  Paris, France;  NBA Commissioner Adam Silver speaks before an NBA game between the Brooklyn Nets and the Cleveland Cavaliers at AccorHotels Arena.  Mandatory Credit: Alexis Reau/Presse Sports via USA TODAY Sports

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has brought about many changes in the NBA in recent years. (Alexis Reau/Presse Sports via USA TODAY Sports)

Silver walks a tightrope, because a changing landscape moves so quickly that it’s hard to keep up. His job is not only to grow the game, but also to maximize revenue – and make no mistake, these two elements are not on the same track.

Being a steward of the game and a historian means he has to keep an eye on things to make sure they don’t get out of hand, while also not fighting against the natural evolution of the game. The wild scoring nights and subsequent change in officiating since the All-Star break are evidence of a necessary scale-back.

Making the pie even bigger, especially as the NFL moves into more NBA territory, Silver will have to embrace almost every revenue shifter – whether it’s gambling or the play-in tournament, or the seasonal tournament, to keep pace.

The play-in was a great success and the intended consequence of making the regular season more attractive worked exactly as intended. The IST was so long ago that it’s almost hard to remember that it wasn’t until December that the league gathered in Las Vegas for its first championship game – and while it wasn’t as definitive of a success as the play-in, it feels like a net positive result. , apart from the horrible floors.

So this change is not all bad. At some point, new fans and new players will consider these new inventions as the status quo, and perhaps even tradition. But it needs to stick around long enough to be treated as such, and the league needs to exercise some caution rather than always going all in.

The league is at something of a turning point, and perhaps it’s an impossible ask. Silver is not the authoritarian figure that David Stern was, but Stern was respected and in some cases feared. Stern wasn’t a perfect figure, he had missteps and things he would have called out a mulligan about. But there was a sense that at least the league had a compass, that nothing was too far beyond the NBA’s reach. Silver’s relationship with players has been fruitful for the players in relation to Stern, but he can’t capitalize on that money to have them perform or compete halfway in an All-Star Game.

Silver didn’t say that the cancellation of the All-Star Game would definitely happen, but the fact that he’s letting those words reach the public is a negative sign. Yes, it’s a meaningless exhibition with no real practical stakes, but it’s important to the mythology of the game, to actually grow it for future generations.

But if Silver can’t make the players understand that this is about something bigger than themselves and their wallets, that’s a failure on the part of everyone involved. And those who are willing to benefit the players, reward them because they don’t care, but see it as fairness, should have higher standards.

We see many profiting from the game, but who is putting money into it, something that cannot be measured in dollars and cents? All-Star Weekend is the biggest moneymaker in the league outside of the playoffs, and the players may be overloaded with off-game commitments they can’t prepare for.

But therein lies the problem: the game has become an afterthought as so many other entities eat into the trough of what the game has to offer. And no one has re-centered things yet.

That’s where Silver has the unenviable job of saying the hard things, of being the boss, even though he has thirty bosses to answer to.

Things are moving so fast that nothing feels institutional anymore. Give Silver credit for being adaptable and introducing new things, but if things continue like this, it will be harder to keep up.

“Is that the year of the seasonal tournament?”

“Wait, are the All-NBA teams positionless?”

“Has the league moved back to East-West for the All-Star Game?”

Silver needs to put a stake in the ground and present an overall ethos for what the NBA will stand for both on and off the floor in the near future. Too often, the league feels like it’s yielding to the whims of the public, rather than having a firm grip on its identity.

Many of these things are unintended consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, the effects of which are still being felt. It has accelerated changes that were perhaps inevitable anyway.

But you just wonder if the league will lose the fabric of so many things that make it special as it pursues and woos every entity, sacrificing its beautiful soul along the way.

An unintended consequence, indeed.

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