Although the NBA is not currently playing games due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, they are still very much in the public eye. Commissioner Adam Silver has been a phenomenal leader through an unprecedented time, and his voice was needed again due to protests taking place over the weekend.
In the wake of a police officer killing George Floyd in Minnesota, racial tensions in the United States hit a fever pitch. Protests, looting and riots broke out all over the country, leading to county-wide curfews in Los Angeles by Saturday.
NBA players – as they have always been encouraged to – spent the weekend speaking out about injustice. Nearly the entire Los Angeles Lakers roster took to Instagram to release a unified statement, and players like Jaylen Brown joined peaceful protesting taking place.
Silver sent out a memo to all 30 teams as a response to these events, saying that he was “heartened” to see members of the NBA family speaking out, according to Rachel Nichols of ESPN:
Here's the memo Commissioner Adam Silver sent to his teams: "I am heartened by the many members of the NBA & WNBA family – players, coaches, legends, team owners, executives at all levels – speaking out to demand justice, urging peaceful protest & working for meaningful change." pic.twitter.com/LSLxos0HvE
— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) June 1, 2020
The NBA has garnered a reputation in recent years for being perhaps the most progressive professional sports league, and a lot of that goes back to Silver. From nearly his first day as commissioner, Silver has preached pro-player sentiments and moving the league forward.
Giving players the freedom to speak out on whatever issues they please without consequence may certainly not be popular in some communities, but the NBA believes that using its platform for the greater good should never be punished.
The statement from Silver also touches on ways in which the NBA can do its part to help racial injustice in the U.S., which has a much greater impact than simply sending out a memo or message on social media.
What makes Silver arguably the best commissioner in sports is his willingness to listen and make change without it feeling like a media stunt. Silver’s openness has consistently been genuine, and it has helped the NBA progress past other leagues in many ways.
With tensions being as high as they are, Silver has helped cultivate a unified front in fighting injustices in this country, and perhaps it can promote change in one way or another.