With the NBA’s suspension due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic extending past two months, the league is entering a key phase for a return to play. With that, commissioner Adam Silver has been in communication with the Players Association about what that might entail and what the sport could look like for the foreseeable future.
Silver has been incredibly proactive in what can only be described as an unprecedented situation. He was the first major sports commissioner to suspend league operations, which was the impetus for stay at home orders nationwide.
He has also been very vocal about wanting to lead the return to normalcy.
Because of his poise throughout this pandemic, team owners and league executives have given Silver full room to make decisions as he sees fit, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
As the uncertainty grows, and scientific, economic and competitive elements collide, there’s one constant in the struggle to revive the NBA: Owners and players are delivering Adam Silver full room to operate, govern and make the decision on resuming play amid a pandemic. No power grabs, no factions, no public criticisms on the commissioner’s judgment.
Because of the power Silver is being given, one owner made sure to communicate to him the opportunity he has to set the public’s perception:
“Don’t underestimate your power to set the public perception,” one owner told Silver on the board of governors call this week.
Silver has been one of the most forward-thinking and player-friendly commissioners since beginning his tenure in 2014. And while this is something that nobody has ever dealt with before, NBA fans should have confidence in Silver’s ability to lead.
The commissioner has been open about the fact that he and the entire league want to return to play as soon as possible. It’s clear that if he can get clearance from health officials to do that, then basketball will be back.
On top of all of that, Silver really does have the power to shift the national conversation surrounding the pandemic, just as he did when he suspended league operations.
If he decides that the NBA is ready for a return, and puts safety nets in place to allow that to happen, it may set the stage for other sports and industries to do the same.