USA TODAY Sports Jeff Zillgitt explains why an NBA Finals without LeBron James, Steph Curry and Kevin Durant is actually a very good sign for the future of the league.
Sports Seriously, USA TODAY
PHOENIX – Usually NBA Commissioner Adam Silver takes the stage here to talk about the state of the league and the success of participants in the NBA Finals.
“It’s especially unfortunate that two women in the industry are facing each other,” said Silver. “Rachel and Maria are both great at what they do. They work extraordinarily hard.
The New York Times obtained a leaked recording of a phone conversation during last year’s NBA bubble between Nichols and Adam Mendelsohn, adviser to Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James. Next, Nichols expressed her frustration that ESPN assigned Taylor to last year’s NBA Finals and said it was in her contract that she would have those responsibilities. After praising Taylor, Nichols argued that ESPN had done so under pressure to improve its racially inclusive workplace practices.
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“I would have thought that over the past year, perhaps through some incredibly difficult conversations, ESPN would have found a way to be able to fix it. Obviously not, ”said Silver. “I also have to say that these issues are not unique to ESPN. Like I said, the league is working on its own issues to do a better job with diversity. It’s not just in sports, but in businesses across America there’s a math going on. “
While Silver expressed “his confidence in the leadership of ESPN and of course in my colleagues at Disney,” he lamented that the networking issues have been happening publicly rather than behind closed doors.
“Careers should not be erased by a single comment. We should judge people based on the larger context of their work, who they are and what we know about them. “
Has the compressed NBA season contributed to injuries?
Silver spent the first seven minutes of a 10-minute opening statement on the challenges of the NBA’s compressed 72-game schedule.
“I always maintain that, balancing all these different issues, it was always the best outcome of a variety of unpopular decisions,” Silver said. “But it’s not clear and I accept the criticisms. It’s part of the job, whether it comes from the players or the media or others, and we’ll see. Maybe it will take a few years to really look back on this season to really understand what we did right and what we did wrong. “
The NBA has overseen a record nine All-Stars missing at least one game due to injury. Although National Basketball Players Association president Chris Paul said the union relied on player feedback for how and when to start this season, Lakers star LeBron James was among the most vocal star players. to wonder if the NBA was prioritizing revenue recovery over player health from both the coronavirus pandemic and navigating through a compressed season.
Still, the NBA shortened its season from 82 to 72 regular-season games while still being concerned about the health of the players.
What will the 2021-22 NBA season look like?
Silver did not have details on when the 2021-22 season will start or if it will feature an 82-game schedule. But Silver was firm on two things.
First, Silver clarified whether the NBA will host international exhibition games.
“Clearly that won’t happen this fall,” said Silver. “But I hope it will be the following year. “
Second, Silver said the NBA will continue a version of a play-in tournament.
“Overall it was very positive for the league and the players,” said Silver. “Certainly there have been suggestions on some adjustments that we should consider, but again I think once we get it back to our owners for a vote and the Players Association gets together and will have the opportunity to review it, I expect it to continue for next season.
Silver spoke candidly about the NBA’s relationship with China
Silver displayed both diplomacy and frankness when speaking about the league’s trade relations with China, which has scrutinized its human rights abuses, censoring free speech and practices unfair trade.
“It’s hard to separate what’s going on with the NBA from the larger geopolitical issues between the United States and China,” Silver said. “I think it remains important, especially when tensions are high between governments, that we foster these sporting, educational and cultural relationships. “
Tensions arose during the 2019-20 season when former Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted his support for the Hong Kong protesters shortly before the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets played a pair of preseason matches in Shenzhen and Beijing. Although Silver defended Morey’s free speech and resisted pressure from the Chinese government to fire him, Silver stressed that Morey’s views do not reflect those of the NBA.
How diverse are the NBA head coaching positions?
Silver has offered mixed reviews of how the NBA has used its vacant offseason head coach positions to enhance its diversity.
The NBA has 10 black head coaches following recent hires with the Dallas Mavericks (Jason Kidd), Portland Trail Blazers (Chauncey Billups) and Boston Celtics (Ime Udoka) after having just seven this season.
“We have seen positive developments there in terms of the number of vacancies to be filled,” Silver said. “It’s something that needs daily attention. So, again, a positive move in that direction, but we’re not going to rest on our laurels there. “
“It’s a little frustrating. This is an area where even looking around the room here, you would like to see more women represented in the room here today, in all aspects of our business, ”said Silver. “We have historically made more progress on race rather than gender. But I think that’s starting to change. It’s slow. It’s frustrating. But it is the work we have to do every day to change.