J.A. Adande and Israel Gutierrez discuss the Adam Silver era. Where does the commish begin?
J.A.: Well, the Adam Silver era sure began with a flourish. I'm talking about his signature on the new official NBA basketballs, of course. Exquisite penmanship. But how will he put his signature on the league as he begins his service as commissioner?
David Stern's reign is defined by revenue growth, global expansion, technological adaptation and harsh penalties for those who tarnished the league's image. It's hard to imagine Silver making such a dramatic impact. But we shouldn't underestimate the future.
It took 66 years from the first airplane flight to landing a man on the moon. It took less than half that time to go from the Walkman to music-playing, picture-taking cellphones. There's always room for innovation. While we're talking technology, that should be one of Silver's goals: to incorporate technology into the arena experience so fans will have incentives to actually go to the games. Let them order food and pay for it on their cellphones so they don't have to wait in lines at the concession stands. Let them watch their choice of replay angles on their iPads. I know commissioners work for the owners, but it would be cool if Silver became the first to make serving the fans his priority.
Israel: Apparently, what's true for coaches is also true for commissioners: You don't want to be the immediate successor to a legend. And Stern certainly leaves as that. The problem in this case, though, is that Silver has been handed a winner and he's supposed to make it better. There's no chance that Silver will have Stern's level of impact because the league had so much more room for growth 30 years ago. Now, Silver is essentially fine-tuning most areas.
You're on to something, though, with the technology being on Silver's side. Stern wasn't hesitant to incorporate technology (the SportVU software that tracks player movement certainly has the potential to enhance how the game is studied), but Silver can take things significantly further. Some of your ideas to enhance the fan experience might be more the individual team's responsibility (the Sacramento Kings are allowing Bitcoin for payment), but there are still untapped possibilities.
As for the health of the game, I wonder if Silver could make a bold decision on the minimum-age requirement for entering the league. The current rule (one year out of high school) isn't ideal for either the NBA or college basketball. I mentioned this on the NBA Lockdown podcast (shameless plug): What if Silver changed the requirement to two years out of high school? But with this exception: You can come into the draft out of high school, but regardless of where you're drafted, you have to spend two years in the D-League. It would use the D-League as a minor league system and enhance the D-League product.