Adam Silver: ‘I Would Raise The Minimum Age’

NBA commissioner Adam SIlver ran the New York City Marathon this year.

Well, sort of.

Silver, who has two New York City marathons under his belt, ran three miles in this year’s race as part of a relay. He handed a baton to former NBA great Chris Mullin, and another former NBA great, Dikembe Mutombo, ran the final stretch.

Mutombo, if you’re curious, did not wag his finger after crossing the finish line.

“He didn’t wag his finger,” Silver said on The Doug Gottlieb Show, “but he held the baton up.”

Of course, if Mutombo had wagged his finger, Silver would have had to fine him, right?

“Precisely,” Silver said, laughing. “And by the way, he wore his high-tops. Not what I would have recommended, but it’s the only shoes he had in his size.”

All kidding aside, Gottlieb asked Silver to reflect on what has been an interesting first year as NBA commissioner.

“It’s been exciting,” Silver said. “As you know, I’ve been with the league for over 20 years, and so I’ve been hit with a bunch of different issues – some that we never had had experience with before at the league office – but it’s been a thrill. I mean, obviously the Clippers stuff was difficult, but virtually everything I’ve done – the travel, the fans have been terrific, the players have been great, and the league’s in terrific shape. So, it’s really been a good year.”

Indeed, Silver has built a great deal of goodwill collateral – which is rare for a newly elected commissioner, most of whom are hated almost immediately after taking office.

“I realize maybe I’m still in a bit of a honeymoon and I’ve been fortunate,” Silver said. “But I think by being myself and being authentic, (I’ve been able to earn people’s trust). And I’m sure there will be things ultimately I’ll do as commissioner that aren’t nearly as popular, but I think people – including players and owners – have to trust that I’m going to do what I think is the right thing in every situation.”

That includes union negotiations. The league is in its fourth year of a 10-year agreement, with each side possessing a year-six opt-out clause. It’s possible, if not likely, that the opt-out could occur, as the Clippers’ $2-billion sale raised a lot of eyebrows around the league – both from owners as well as players, who may want a bigger piece of the pie.

Did the Clippers’ sale change the financial metrics of the league?

“Maybe, but I’m never going to say it’s a bad thing that a team sells for a higher value – and I don’t think our players think that way either,” Silver said. “We’re seeing (a better league) in terms of franchise value, and we’re seeing that in terms of more competitive teams in the league. So, from my standpoint, the system is working just the way we had hoped, and the market is demonstrating that by virtue of an increase in franchise value. I hope that the players would never see that as a bad thing. It just means the business is running well. And sure, I understand their reaction, which is, ‘We should be talking about our share.’ We’ll talk about it at the appropriate time.”

Silver said if he could get his way on one thing and one thing only it would be raising the league’s minimum age from 19 to 20 – even though he knows that’s not a popular sentiment.

“I think we would have a better draft,” Silver said. “We would have more mature players coming into the league. i think college basketball would benefit, but that wouldn’t be my intention in doing it. But I think better competition in college basketball would be better for the NBA as well. The guys come into the league with more experience, (they’re more) mature and (they’re) better known by the public. That’s something that I’m sure, as your listeners know, we have to negotiate with the union. But if you told me I could unilaterally do one thing, I would raise the minimum age.”

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