Adam Silver is a nice guy, or so I’ve come to believe.
There are those who will tell you the exact is opposite, but they say so in a whisper. They are not what is known in NBA headquarters as an FOA (Friend of Adam), and thus they fear and loathe him the same way so many basketball fans fear, loathe … and hate, yes hate, outgoing commissioner David Stern.
Fairly or unfairly, Stern has become a lightning rod for every grievance known to the casual and/or hardcore fan. And every time be makes a public appearance, they let him know how they feel.
In the history of sports, has any single person been booed with more lust, and more times, than Easy Dave?
Don’t think so.
So in one respect, Silver has things easy as he prepares to step into the top job at the NBA beginning next month. There is absolutely no way he will be as reviled a figure as Stern. It is impossible. For everything that Stern did to make the NBA such a strong global brand, there has always been a combativeness and a smugness to him that turns people off. Yes, he is the smartest guy in the room in every room he enters. Unfortunately, he wields a sledgehammer in making that fact known.
Let’s not forget, Chris Paul would be playing for the Lakers, not the Clippers, had it not been for Stern. The Phoenix Suns might have made it to the NBA Finals. Some other team aside from the New York Knicks may have won the draft rights to Patrick Ewing (and by the way, the bent envelope conspiracy theory carries more weight than the frozen envelope conspiracy theory, although conspiracy theorists will probably tell you it was a combination of the two.)
So Silver will begin his term with a clean slate, but it will not last long.
After the reserves for the 2014 All-Star game are announced (they are chosen by the coaches from each conference), Silver will have to choose a replacement for Kobe Bryant. There will be probably a half-dozen worthy candidates, so it is fair to say that fans in five cities will be saying to themselves a month from now: “This guy is even worse than Stern.”
And so it will begin … the hate will keep on coming, an Silver will either revel in it (as Stern did) or let it subside naturally, which can take years and years. It’ll be interesting to see whether someone on this list is the guy Silver will select.
Good luck with that one, Adam.
And on a side note, please, please, please come up with a plan to make the playoffs more interesting. My vote goes for setting up a system that allows for some interconference play in the first three rounds. Seed the teams 1 through 16, bracket them, and see what becomes of it. Yes, it might make for some tough travel … for the hoi polloi.
But for Silver? Oh no.
Not when a guy has access to he commissioner’s private plane — the one that allows him to attend night games in far-flung cities and then return home to his own bed in New York before dawn.
Onto the rankings …