Adam Silver has been the NBA Commissioner for over seven years now. He had been involved with the league in various roles before starting his tenure as the NBA chief. Before being elected as the fifth Commissioner of the league in February 2014, Silver was the Chief Operating Officer and worked as former Commissioner David Stern's deputy. He took over the reins after Stern's retirement in 2014.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver's career-defining moments
Adam Silver's tenure in the NBA has largely been successful. His leadership has helped the league grow economically and become more influential on the global stage. He has been vocal about social issues, allowing individuals in the league to take part in fighting for justice using the platform provided to them by the NBA.
Right from year one of his tenure, Adam Silver has had to make some decisions that have earned him a lot of respect over time. On that note, we look at three of the most impactful decisions he has made during his time as the NBA Commissioner in the league.
#1 Banned then LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling over racist remarks in 2014
Adam Silver had to make one of the most controversial decisions of his tenure as NBA Commissioner just a few months into his reign. Former LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling was caught on tape making racist remarks in a ten-minute phone conversation with his ex-girlfriend V. Stiviano. This did not sit well with the NBA and Adam Silver in particular.
He handed Sterling a lifetime ban from the NBA. He also forced Sterling to sell the LA Clippers via a vote out from the league's Board of Governors. Silver additionally fined Sterling a $2.5M penalty, which was the maximum allowed under the NBA's constitution.
The monumental disciplinary action taken by Adam Silver set the tone for his tenure as Commissioner. He followed this up with many other such decisions that will be a part of his legacy down the line.
#2 Moved All-Star weekend from Charlotte in 2017 due to North Carolina House Bill 2
The All-Star weekend was set to take place in Charlotte in 2017. However, it was eventually moved because the league objected to the state's House Bill 2, which limited anti-discrimination protections for the LGBT community. Adam Silver believed it did not fit the values of the NBA and made a bold decision to shift the weekend to New Orleans instead.
Here's what the full statement from the league read at the time:
“Our week-long schedule of All-Star events and activities is intended to be a global celebration of basketball, our league, and the values for which we stand, and to bring together all members of the NBA community – current and former players, league and team officials, business partners, and fans. While we recognize that the NBA cannot choose the law in every city, state, and country in which we do business, we do not believe we can successfully host our All-Star festivities in Charlotte in the climate created by HB2.”
Adam Silver's tendency to make hard decisions gave him the tag of being one of the most "progressive" sports commissioners in the United States.
#3 The 'Orlando Bubble' and 'Black Lives Matter' movement
The Orlando Bubble was a remarkable effort made by Adam Silver and the NBA to finish off last season after the COVID-19 pandemic led to the suspension of the regular-season games. It was a $190M project structured by the NBA to protect the players taking part in the remainder of the season. The Bubble was a success for multiple reasons.
The NBA completed its regular-season matches in the Bubble. The facility also hosted the entire NBA Playoffs and Finals, which the LA Lakers won against the Miami Heat. Additionally, players and teams used the platform to support the 'Black Lives Matter' movement, which is a social movement that protests against incidents involving police brutality and racially motivated violence against the black community.
The NBA and the NBPA (players' association) worked collaboratively to allow players to wear several social justice messages on their jerseys for the remainder of the season.