Adam Silver was sitting next to David Stern on the dias in London, the Commissioner-in-waiting sitting next to the man who will step down Feb. 1 after 30 years as the head of the league. It was their last press conference together, this one before the Nets/Hawks game in London, and was likely Stern’s last presser as NBA commissioner.
One of the early questions was one a lot of fans are asking (some expectantly): come Feb. 2 what is going to be changed in the NBA besides Silver’s signature being on the balls used by the league?
“That is one being changed, the signature on the ball, but other than that…” Silver trailed off at the press conference shown live on NBA TV.
“In all seriousness, I’ve been working alongside with David for 22 years now and I think we’ve wanted to change we have changed. It’s been a partnership. My plan is to listen to the team owners, listen to the players, listen to the partners of the NBA then be very deliberate about making any changes. The league is operating at a wonderful state right now and I’d be cautious about making any changes.”
The change from Stern to Silver is one more of style than substance. Silver is more a modern CEO, more a consensus builder and less a force of personality.
As for what Stern will be doing come Feb. 2, he said trying to figure out what to do with all the boxes he brought home from his office, then he wants to do a little skiing.
After that, he said to expect a few big announcements.
Here are highlights from some of the other highlights and topics covered.
• With the NBA back in London the pair was asked about bringing a regular season NBA game to bigger basketball hotbeds in Europe such as Spain, Greece or Turkey, Stern gave the businessman’s answer:
“The economy is booming comparatively in the UK. We’re having a sell-out at good prices, I’m not sure that’s possible at the current time in Greece. It’s unlikely in Spain… Turkey and Italy as well, these are tough times. It’s problematic. And the O2 is a spectacular building, the last time we played in Italy it was at the Forum, and that building may be as old as I am…
“But we will go back to those places, we will go back to Spain and Italy and Greece, I just don’t know when Commissioner Silver will choose to do that.”
• Silver reiterated what Stern has said before — the league has discussed having full time teams in Europe, but if they ever did it this would be an entire division, not just one team. When in Europe the league loves to talk this idea up, but the logistics are difficult. At best. (Incorporating existing teams makes more sense in some ways, but adds a number of challenges.)
• Silver confirmed the league does plan to continue to play regular season games in London. As expected. The Nets have been a more aggressive franchise than most in marketing itself in Europe but Silver said they will spread the wealth around with which teams travel for these games down the line.
• Speaking of international ball, Stern said the league would not be releasing its contracted players to play in International events during the NBA season as FIBA tweaks and changes its schedule.
• “Under the right circumstances we’d love to see a team back in Seattle,” Silver said.
“That’s great, he sounds like a commissioner,” Stern joked about the reply.
• Stern largely dodged the question of things he wish he’d gotten done, saying he wished the WNBA was 24 teams instead of 12, that the Americans won the gold at the Athens Olympics, but that’s about it. Says he will travel some for the NBA, which is to be expected.