I wonder if Adam Silver is intentionally working to make himself the obverse of his predecessor, David Stern, or if they are just wired differently. David Stern seemed always in dire need to demonstrate that he was the smartest person not only in the room but in the entire zip code. Silver is clearly smarter than the average bear (H/T to Hanna- Barbera), but he seems to be able to blend his intellect with the reality of common sense. David Stern could not allow himself to demonstrate common sense because if he did, that might detract from the hugeness of his intellect.
Recently, Adam Silver went on the Boomer and Carton show on WFAN in NY. I am anything but a fan of Boomer and Carton; I doubt that I have ever been able to stay tuned to their program for more than 20 minutes in a stretch. Nonetheless, Boomer and Carton spoke with the NBA Commish on the topic of gambling on NBA games – and other pro sporting events and elicited these remarks:
After speaking about international soccer and European basketball where gambling is widely available and practiced, Silver said:
“Because they have all that data, they’re able to monitor [game fixing activities] … And if there’s any irregular activity whatsoever, it’s like tracking insider trading on the New York Stock Exchange. If there’s a blip, if there’s unusual activity, they know to investigate. So first the issue for us is if all this betting is going to go on anyway, we should be able to monitor it. And then, No. 2, if all this betting activity is going to go on anyway, make it legal.”
Later, the Commish said:
“It’s good for business, I don’t want to hide from that. Putting aside whether or not we’re actually actively involved in any of the betting, it creates more engagement. We all know as fans if you have, even like a gentleman’s bet or a $5 bet with your friend on a game, all of a sudden you’re a lot more interested.”
What Silver did not say is that the NBA is indeed in a financial arrangement with one of those fantasy sports sites that offers “one-day games” and so the NBA is already directly involved with – and benefiting from – gambling activities involving NBA players and NBA games.
The other recent Adam Silver event that demonstrated that he is cut from different cloth than his predecessor was his press conference after the annual NBA board of Governors’ Meeting last week. He simply presented the outcome of the meeting in simple terms and admitted that there were some issues for which there is no obvious workable solution at the moment. I have trouble imagining David Stern verbalizing in that way. Here are two conundrums that Adam Silver and the NBA mavens have not yet figured a way out of:
1. Tanking: The lottery was instituted to prevent tanking because 30+ years ago it was being done in spades to acquire the guaranteed #1 pick in the Draft. The problem now is that teams are about to be flush with cash and with oodles of salary cap headroom meaning that free agency will be a goat rodeo over the next year or two. Here is what Commish Silver had to say:
“So what the basketball people pointed out – and they’re right – is that of course the draft lottery and the draft are just one component of team building. There’s also free agency and then there are trades, and that it’s very difficult then to look at that one aspect in the abstract. So my sense where we were coming out is that there’s still a sense that we need to make a change, but until we see what the team behavior is going to be with all this new cap room, we should hold it and wait and then look holistically at the whole system. This one again on the draft lottery, we agreed to continue looking at it, but it seems highly unlikely at this point that we’re going to make a change for next season.”
Let me translate that for you:
We haven’t the faintest idea how to attack this problem now and the cap room changes only make it more complicated. So, we are kicking the can down the road…
2. Playoff entrants and seeding: Look at the Eastern teams in the playoffs vis-à-vis the teams who just missed the playoffs in the West. If you do not see the fundamental issue here by looking at those records, you are clearly a fan of the Brooklyn Nets. However, there is no agreement on how to fix this and here is how the Commish explained it:
“When we presented all the data to the teams, what becomes clear is that there is no obvious solution because we play, for example, an unbalanced schedule in terms of you play your division members more than you do other divisions; you play in your conference more than you do the other conference. And I’ve said in the past, one of the competing issues is do we reduce the number of back-to-backs, reducing the amount travel for our teams. Of course, if we have a fully balanced schedule, that will increase the amount of travel.”
Let me translate that for you:
Teams in the East like the idea of playing other lesser competition in the East Conference more than teams in the West and have figured out that travel times to the West Coast are much longer than they are in the I-95 corridor and are using that as an argument to leave things as they are. Oh, and since changes to alignment or playoff eligibility require an affirmative vote of 2/3 of the teams, the chances of getting a bunch of Eastern teams to sign up for such change are zero. So we are punting…
Twins’ pitcher Ervin Santana is one of several MLB players on lengthy suspension for failing a PED drug test. Santana tested positive for Stanozolol which is the same thing that cost Ben Johnson his Olympic Gold Medals all the way back in 1988. Folks, this is hardly one of those so-called “designer steroids”… The interesting part of this story is that when Santana addressed his suspension, he said that he could not pinpoint how this stuff found its way into his bloodstream.
Memo to Ervin Santana: When discussing the origins of how you wound up being suspended from MLB for failing a steroid test, you might not want to use the word, “pinpoint”. Just saying…
Finally, a cogent observation from Scott Ostler in the SF Chronicle:
“Tough break for the San Jose Earthquakes with one-named midfielder, Innocent, being suspended one game for throwing an elbow.
“It’s also a whiff for Bay Area headline writers, who missed: ‘Innocent Guilty.’ “
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………