Adam Silver disagrees with premise ‘superstars should play more’

Feb 19, 2023

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LEAGUE LEADER. NBA commissioner Adam Silver talks in a press conference during the 2023 All Star Saturday Night.

Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports/reuters

‘We’re working collectively with our doctors, our data scientists – if it means at some point we’re better off elongating the schedule to avoid back-to-backs, we’d consider that,’ says NBA commissioner Adam Silver

Commissioner Adam Silver said the NBA and players association are having “ongoing conversation” about load management and the decision to rest All-Stars during the season. 

Silver said shortening the schedule wasn’t on the table right now. He did admit talks involving a possible in-season tournament, with the potential for inviting international teams to participate, could be a win-win answer to both questions.

“We’re working collectively with our doctors, our data scientists – if it means at some point we’re better off elongating the schedule to avoid back-to-backs, we’d consider that,” Silver said on Saturday, February 18 (Sunday, February 19, Manila time). 

“Looking at the data… there’s a fair degree of randomness when players get injured. Talking to players, there’s a realization this is a year-round pursuit now. Part of injury avoidance is how players are treating their bodies year-round.”

Silver said he’s “not sure” if stars are playing enough, and believes fans are resoundingly delivering the message through attendance and viewership ratings that they are more than satisfied with the product.

“The premise… suggests they should be playing more,” Silver said. “Having been in the league for a long time, having spent time with a lot of our great legends, I’m not necessarily sure that’s the case. The approach of ‘Just get out there’… Play through all kinds of aches and pains on a regular basis. The suggestion that these men somehow should just be out there more, I don’t buy into.

“The fan aspect, that certain players aren’t going to participate in a percentage of games… I don’t think the issue is what some quite suggest. If we were to suggest that’s going to be the case going forward, I look at the data and say, ‘We’re likely going to break the record this year for tickets sold. We’re likely going to break the record for season tickets.’ So whether we may need to reset in a certain way in terms of expectations, I think there are certain things we can do around the edges.”

Silver said the March 30 opt-out date from the existing collective bargaining agreement is a major priority, and keeping labor peace is best for all.

“It’s my hope a deal will be done by then,” Silver said.

As for the weekend at hand, Silver said the NBA and players association agreed to modify the format of the game Sunday night with a draft introduced to fill the game rosters before tipoff to “add a bit more excitement.”

Silver also called for the celebration of the diverse background of the league before All-Star Saturday in Salt Lake City.

The commissioner noted only 20 international players were in the league 30 years ago, with 120 on NBA rosters at the 2023 All-Star break.

“The dramatic number of international players now in the league, and probably as much player movement as we’ve had any time – over 10 percent of the entire league was moved before the trade deadline,” Silver said of his positives from the NBA season. 

“Interestingly enough, our top five scorers in the league are from five different countries.”

Perennial All-Stars and former Nets Kevin Durant (Suns) and Kyrie Irving (Mavericks) were both traded, and while Silver has in the past spoken out against the practice of stars calling their shots or forcing trades, he seemed to flip opinions on Saturday.

“In our current collective bargaining agreement, there are rules against demanding a trade,” Silver said, calling it a “corrosive behavior.”

“Lots of players, for a long time, behind the scenes have asked for trades,” Silver said. “Strongly against anything said publicly. I agree a certain amount of player agreement is good, but it has to be done in partnership.” –

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