To hear some people around the league tell it, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver — on behalf of other frustrated owners — twisted arms to get Philadelphia owner Josh Harris to bring in Jerry Colangelo and change the course of what has been a slow rebuild.
Adam Silver denied he was carrying a big stick in this case.
Speaking softly on SiriusXM NBA Radio, Silver said his role — and that of other NBA owners — was minimal.
“The only role I played was making an introduction to Jerry for Josh Harris,” Silver said.” But I would say this was something that was initiated entirely by Josh Harris and he’s the principle owner and the governor of the Philadelphia 76ers. Contrary to what I read in some of the reports this was not arm-twisting from the league office telling the 76ers they had to change course. This was not other owners calling me and saying, ‘You’ve got to force the 76ers to do something.’
“This was an awareness by Josh Harris and David Blitzer, who is his co-owner, and other owners who are part of their group, that they needed to make a course correction here, that they are relatively new at this business and I think it was a recognition from them that, while they weren’t blowing up their strategy entirely, that there is more to owning a franchise than what is represented in the win and loss columns. And that in terms of their obligation to the community, in terms of their own personal reputations, that they felt the need to be more personally involved and to do more for the team and for the city. And when they got to that point that’s when Josh Harris said to me, ‘Let’s talk about what my options are.’ And one of the names on that list of people who could potentially help them was Jerry Colangelo. And he’s someone who I think I literally met the first week I started at the NBA 23 years ago when he was the then owner of the Phoenix Suns. He’s a former Chairman of the Board of the NBA. He’s someone I’ve worked with extensively in his role at USA Basketball, and is someone who has been an advisor to me many times over the years.
“All I did was then say, ‘You two should get together and let’s see if there’s an opportunity to work together.’ So I just want to make sure it’s not lost that this was the 76ers deciding that they needed to make a change.”
Obviously, if Harris didn’t want this to happen, it wouldn’t have. But for him and his co-owners to radically change course mid-season means that something changed, and while Jahlil Okafor‘s transgressions off the court certainly played a role, to think that there was no pressure from the outside is naive. Harris heard from someone.
Adam Silver learned one thing well from David Stern — soft pedal your role in everything.