COMMISSIONER SILVER DISCUSSES KEY ISSUES
NEW ORLEANS – The commissioner’s media session has long been a staple of All-Star Weekend. He addresses league issues, answers questions and generally provides an NBA state of the union.
For the first time, since the inception of the current All-Star format, Saturday, David Stern did not man the podium.
Instead new commissioner Adam Silver spoke, thanking Stern, who he called his mentor and friend, among many others in a lengthy opening address. There was a large contingent of reporters on hand to hear it, larger than most cases.
“Over the course of the last few days, I've addressed everyone from the doctors of the NBA to the Mothers Association to the legends of the game, current players, owners, team presidents,” Silver said. “It truly is a village of people involved with this league, and it's a privilege every day to be part of it.”
He was peppered with questions about everything from tanking to the lottery to expansion. Here are a few of the key points that he addressed:
On the expansion of instant replay, which was used twice in the final minute of the Clippers’ 122-117 win over the Trail Blazers on Wednesday:
“It's something that the competition committee will look at. I don't know if there's ways to expand replay and shorten the game at the same time. One of the things we're looking at is a command center similar to what the NHL does right now, where we can centralize the review of replay. In part to ensure a certain consistency, also to save time.
“Now, as you know, the game stops, the referees walk courtside, turn the monitor around, talk to the truck, order up the replays. And I think that it's our belief if we can get it right, that if have you officials, in essence, located at headquarters, at a central site, that that process can begin immediately, they then can communicate with the officials and that will save time.
“But I don't have an agenda right now for particular additional instances of replay. It is something, though, that the competition committee will look at.”
On potentially extending the All-Star break, something Chris Paul and Blake Griffin have both said they would be in favor of:
“We have talked about a mid-season break. That's been reported recently. That's something I've heard directly from the players on. They're saying that if we if they could get a few more days off around All Star, especially the All Stars, I think, who, as we all know, are so busy over the course of these few days, it would be helpful to them to get some additional rest.
“Of course our season is so concentrated right now, that will require us to push back the season a few days. So we'll continue to look at it. It's an awfully long season right now. So I'm not sure we want to go too much longer. But we'll look at it.”
On potentially increasing the age limit. Note: The Clippers have two players on their roster (Byron Mullens and DeAndre Jordan) who would have been affected by a 20-year-old minimum when they left school for the NBA.
“So the 20 year old minimum age limit was something we had on the table in the last round of collective bargaining. And when we compromised on a deal, well into what should have been our season, we agreed to park certain issues and return to them. And the age limit was one of them.
“It is my belief that if players have an opportunity to mature as players and as people, for a longer amount of time, before they come into the league, it will lead to a better league.
“And I know from a competitive standpoint that's something as I travel the league I increasingly hear from our coaches, especially, who feel that many of even the top players in the league could use more time to develop even as leaders as part of college programs.
“I think it would have the same impact on college as well. I think ultimately this is a team sport; it's not an individual sport. And we have seen it in international competition, for example, too, where teams of players that have played together for a long time have enormous advantage over teams comprised of super stars or players that come together over short periods of time.
“So I think from a college standpoint if those teams could have an opportunity to jell, to come together, if those players had the benefit to play for some of these great college coaches for longer periods of time, I think it would lead to stronger college basketball and stronger NBA ball as well.
On the use of short-sleeved jerseys in the NBA, something the Clippers implemented this season in Sunday home games with their Pacific Blue uniforms as well as utilized in Summer League, Christmas Day and the All-Star Game:
“Well, so the sleeved jerseys ‑‑ and, of course, the All Stars are going to be wearing sleeved jerseys this weekend ‑‑ from a fan standpoint, the greatest indicator is how are they selling, and I'll say we're having trouble keeping them in the stores. There's enormous demand for those jerseys. Fans like them. And I happen to like them too.
“The idea behind them was that presuming there was a large segment of our fan base, especially older males like myself, who weren't going to be comfortable wearing tank‑top jerseys but would feel comfortable wearing a sleeved jersey to work out or play basketball in or whatever else, I think from that standpoint it's been successful. People are buying them and people like them.
“Player feedback has been mixed. I've talked to lots of players who like them. I've heard directly from other players who don't like them.
“I think from the fashion standpoint, I'm comfortable with it. If players believe it has any impact whatsoever on the competition, even if it's just a perception, we need to deal with it. We know that shooting percentages are virtually exactly the same for games in which we have sleeved jerseys and teams in which the guys are wearing conventional jerseys.
“So I'm pretty comfortable from a competitive standpoint that it's having no impact. But, you know, and what I've said to the players is that, on one hand, people keep encouraging me to try new things, and then when we try something new, people say you've lost your mind, what are you doing? The sleeves ‑‑ jerseys have sleeves on them. So I said it's something we're trying. We're having some fun with it. Long term, we'll see. But it was never our intention or adidas' intention to change the core uniform that our players wear.”