Coming into the televised press conference, all eyes were on new NBA commissioner, Adam Silver. With the large public outrage against the racist comments made by Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, many wondered how Silver would act.
Silver, having just entered the office two months ago, had been sitting in former commissioner David Stern’s shadow for quite a while. For the 30 years Stern served as commissioner, Silver watched from behind as the NBA grew into a global and iconic phenomenon. He saw how, even amid controversy, Stern was a well-known ambassador of the sport that earned him a label of being one of the greatest commissioners of all time by the time he retired.
As a longtime NBA fan, Silver possessed an inherent love for basketball, which was shown by his frequent attendance at the NBA playoffs this year. His knowledge of the game and dedication to improving the league earned the respect of players and executives around the NBA.
Yet, with his decision to ban Donald Sterling for life from associating with the NBA and the Los Angeles Clippers, and his determination to work with the NBA Board of Governors to force Sterling to sell the team, Adam Silver has achieved something that his predecessor, David Stern, was never able to do.
He united the league and the public together in a moral stand against injustice.
In all of the 30 years he served as commissioner, Stern never involved himself in the public aspect of the NBA. There were well-publicized trade vetoes and lottery policy changes, but nothing that stretched past matters involving the sport itself. Even with Sterling’s past mishaps that showed his bigotry, Stern and the NBA never took decisive action.
All that has changed with Silver’s ban on Tuesday afternoon. In one action, Silver achieved what he needed to: He salvaged the sport free from the disgusting racism of Donald Sterling.
In the process, Silver has earned the respect from not just within the league that he serves, but also the global community and the general public. In his first big test as commissioner, Silver has already set the tone of his tenure with his decisive and bold resolve in protection of the league’s interests.
By the time the press conference ended, the world no longer saw Adam Silver with uncertainty. They saw him in a new light.