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Silver likely to bring new management style to Commish spot

POSTED: Oct 25, 2012 8:53 PM ET

By Fran Blinebury

BY Fran Blinebury


Serving as NBA's deputy commissioner since 2006, Adam Silver will step in Stern's spot in 2014.

When Adam Silver succeeds David Stern as commissioner on Feb. 1, 2014, there will not be sudden and dramatic shifts to the tectonic plates of the NBA.

David Stern - NBA Board of Governors

The baskets will still be 10 feet off the floor. Slam dunks will still rattle rims and imaginations. Dancers will still shimmy and shake through timeouts. The increasing popularity of the game will keep reaching out to every corner of the planet.

But after 30 years of Stern as the lead voice and single-minded keeper of the NBA flame, some observers and insiders around the league believe there will be a change in management style.

In other words, don't think of Silver as Stern 2.0, but more like the original iPod, a completely new device.

Though the two have worked closely together for the past 14 years, including the last six with Silver serving in the role of deputy commissioner, and often joke that they can finish each other's sentences, a difference in management style is what some think will set the two regimes apart.

While Stern has always been a "top-down" manager, Silver is said to be "more collaborative" and will seek out opinions from the individual teams and try to a build consensus to solve problems.

"Adam was...a no-brainer, said Spurs owner Peter Holt, the newly-elected chairman of the NBA Board of Governors. "He's been there over 20 years. He's been a huge part of what the NBA has become. He's been involved in every aspect of the NBA and we want to continue that.

"We think continuity particularly at this time, for the NBA and probably for sports in general around the world, is tantamount and Adam is the man that can do it."

Stern first publicly endorsed Silver to be his successor last February.

"Adam has the respect of the owners and the players, he has expertise in the very important areas of social media, international and television, all of which report to him," Stern said. "That focus has only been intensified over the past several years, while at the same time his portfolio has been broadened to include collective bargaining and other matters as well."

Silver grew up a Knicks fan in Westchester County, NY and was on his way to following in his father's footsteps as a lawyer, when he sent Stern a letter asking for advice in embarking on a legal career. The two met, Stern became intrigued and offered Silver a job as special assistant to the commissioner.

In 2001, the New York Times quoted Stern as saying: "I feel as though I kidnapped Adam for the NBA on his way to a legal career."

According to, Silver closed the case to become the next commissioner with his work last year on the new labor agreement with the National Basketball Players Association.

"The last CBA made the difference," Marc Ganis, a sports business consultant who has worked closely with several NBA teams, told The resolution to the dispute that erased part of the 2011-12 season included a reduction in the players' share of Basketball Related Income (BRI) to roughly 50% from the 57% negotiated during the 2005 CBA. Increased revenue sharing also helped the small-market teams, those bearing the brunt of the $370 million in league-wide losses the previous year. It was Silver, working side-by-side with Stern in nearly every negotiating session, who regularly presented owners with reports and got their feedback, according to Ganis.

"He stopped the bleeding," Ganis says. "Reversing the trends had a very significant impact on the perception of him by NBA ownership."

The 50-year-old Silver has served as the NBA's deputy commissioner and chief operating officer since 2006, following more than eight years as president and COO, NBA Entertainment. He's played a key role in many league accomplishments, including negotiations of the league's last two television agreements, the last three collective bargaining agreements with the NBPA, the development of the WNBA and NBA Development League, the partnership with Turner Broadcasting to jointly manage the NBA's digital assets, the formation of iHoops -- a partnership with the NCAA focused on basketball development and the creation of NBA China as a separately incorporated operating entity.

Fran Blinebury has covered the NBA since 1977. You can e-mail him here and follow him on Twitter.

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