SXsports: Adam Silver

NBA commissioner talks TV, social media, and LeBron's appeal

“As of 1992, I’m a diehard fan of every team,” says Adam Silver, garnering some chuckles during the ending Q&A portion of his keynote address.

The former litigation attorney sure has it down pat – just hitting a register combining 5th Avenue highbrow and gee-gosh humility. Always at ease and ready to provide the good word, the NBA commissioner – this year’s most important SXsports speaker – has mastered the art of maximizing the necessarily velvety intangible-speak, only for you to get exactly what he’d like to give you – regardless of the question asked. Far from untruthful, his intent is pure. It’s a nimble skill surely picked up by his able teacher, one of the great commissioners in the history of world team sport, David Stern – himself a former lawyer.

photo by John Anderson

Moderated by Brian Stelter, host of CNN’s Reliable Sources, Silver was asked everything from the potential use of virtual reality for an improved NBA experience, to the (increasingly remote) chances of one question-asker’s hopes (and dreams) of Seattle getting another franchise. To this Supersonics fan, Silver – very tactfully – explained that he should let those Pacific Northwest rain showers wash away his new tears.

Among the most interesting points including the NBA’s apparently quantum processing, and macro vision, in the course of deepening the league’s existing foothold. He spoke of the nine-year television rights deals with ESPN and TNT – both commencing next season – almost in the past tense, clearly leaning forward into this upcoming parsing of cable packages and likely all-encompassing social-media engagement.

One critical thought was on the league’s big/small market distinctions, noting the proliferation of the social media throughout the markets has eliminated most disparity – save the obvious media considerations. Though plainly obvious the NBA is a player’s league – Silver noted the successes of LeBron James and Kevin Durant, who both play in traditionally small markets. However, he rather glossed over the fact they were drafted onto the teams, and that LeBron has Ohio ties. Instead, he stressed the “value comes from winning, and well-managed teams.”

Courtside With NBA Commissioner Adam Silver

Friday, March 11, Austin Convention Center

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Adam Silver, SXSW, SXSW Interactive 2016, SXSW 2016, NBA

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