NBA Commissioner Adam Silver reacts to ESPN anchor turmoil – .

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver reacts to ESPN anchor turmoil – .

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. But in his media availability ahead of Game 1 between the Phoenix Suns and the Milwaukee Bucks, Silver also intervened on ESPN dealing with domestic unrest involving NBA anchors Rachel Nichols and Maria Taylor.
“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. “I wish Maria Taylor all the best in the world – she covers football, she covers basketball,” Nichols said in an audio clip released by The Times. “If you need to give her more stuff to do because you feel the pressure from your long-standing record for diversity – which, by the way, I know personally on the female side – go for it. . Just find it somewhere else. You’re not going to find it at my house or take my stuff away. Nichols continued to host ESPN’s “The Jump” this season while Taylor hosted “NBA Countdown”. With Taylor’s contract set to expire in three weeks, ESPN has replaced Nichols with Malika Andrews for secondary duties for the NBA Finals. The Times report also said ESPN suspended the digital video producer who told the network’s human resources department that she shared the video with Taylor. The producer, a black woman, was suspended for two weeks without pay and has since left the company.

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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. “What we see in ESPN is one thing to talk about the principles around diversity and inclusion, it’s another thing when it comes to someone’s specific job and how it is. is managed, ”said Silver. “What I’ve learned from dealing with these issues in the NBA is that they’re incredibly complex. There is no quick fix here, and they take a very painstaking effort to get people into the room and solve these problems by talking a lot about them, then talking more about them, and creating a climate. where people feel comfortable saying what they are thinking when people get the benefit of the doubt, especially long-time employees who are in good standing, when they make comments, when people recognize that people make mistakes.

“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. “It has been a huge physical and emotional burden on everyone,” Silver said. “I think we see it every day. There has been a lot of talk about injuries. Putting the specific data aside for a second, I have no doubt that the added stress, again physical and emotional, on them contributes to the injuries. But does that mean Silver regrets starting the 2020-21 season just 71 days after the Los Angeles Lakers won an NBA title in the campus bubble?

“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. “The problem we’re trying to solve is getting the rest to work, frankly?” Does load management work? Argent said. “There are different theories on this. What’s most surprising, like I said, it’s not just about injuries this season. We have been observing this upward trend for several years. And you would like to believe that with the investment, the level of sophistication, the number of doctors, the amount of tests we review, the data we collect that we once couldn’t, that putting the pandemic aside , we would have seen improvements and we haven’t seen it yet.

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 estimates that the NBA has seen a 33% drop in revenue, the league plans to host games next season at full capacity.

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. “It certainly doesn’t mean that we bless everything that happens in China by any means. We are basically an American company so we are following the policy of the US government, ”said Silver. “But I expect that we will continue to distribute our games in China through their service, Tencent and others, and that we can play a productive role in helping the people of the United States and the Chinese people to better understand each other and see that we are all human beings and that there is something in common between us.

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. “ As for women? The NBA does not have a female head coach despite the fact that San Antonio Spurs assistant Becky Hammon has held several job interviews for the vacant head coach positions. The New Orleans Pelicans, Orlando Magic and Washington Wizards still have vacancies, making it both possible and unclear whether the league’s representation will improve.

“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.


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