© 2024 WYPR
WYPR 88.1 FM Baltimore WYPF 88.1 FM Frederick WYPO 106.9 FM Ocean City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver Emerges As Pandemic Hero

Mayo Clinic via Flickr (Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 2.0)

It’s hard to think of this miserable time that we’ve all been forced to endure as yielding a winner, as it feels as though in some ways we’ve all lost.

Yet, if it is appropriate to speak of a person in such terms, it would appear that NBA Commissioner Adam Silver would fit the bill. 

While nearly all of his contemporaries have committed missteps themselves or seen their organizations flounder about, Silver has been nearly perfect

Go back to the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis in March, when an NBA player, Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz, was the first high-profile athlete to test positive for the virus.

Silver leapt into action, shutting the league down just as it was heading for its most lucrative period, the playoffs. It’s a decision that likely cost the league billions, yet Silver acted decisively, knowing it was the right thing to do.

But that was only part of the plan. Silver had to get the NBA back up and functioning in a way that not only provided safety to the league’s players, coaches and officials, but was faithful to the season that was nearly two-thirds through.

Enter the bubble, a 170-million dollar experiment spread over four hotels and three arenas on Walt Disney World property in Orlando. 

Under the plan, 22 of the league’s 30 teams would travel to Florida to play in an enclosed setting with no spectators. There, everyone inside would be tested daily and access into and out of the bubble would be practically non-existent.

The plan, to date, has been a smashing success, on and off the court. The play has been terrific and, so far, there has not been a single positive coronavirus test. 

Things have gone swimmingly, so much so that there’s talk in some corners of recreating the bubble in some form next season.

And the NBA and its players union have used a saliva-based test for coronavirus that has such promise that the Food and Drug Administration cleared it for public use over the weekend.

The league and the players are paying for funding of the test, conducted by researchers at Yale. 

The White House has been made aware of the NBA’s assistance, a fact that hasn’t deterred Donald Trump from attacking players for their participation in the Black Lives Matter effort.

NBA players and coaches, already spurred to supporting the Black Lives Matter movement before this season, have taken their commitment to another level following the murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd at the hands of police.

And the league, under Silver’s leadership, has lent its full-throated aid, negotiating with players to allow them to wear words of support on their jerseys as well as placing the words Black Lives Matter on the Orlando courts.

And earlier this month, the NBA announced it will contribute 300-million over the next decade to promote economic growth in the Black community, a move, no doubt, shepherded by Silver.  

Compared to his mentor and predecessor, David Stern, who spent 30 years as commissioner, Adam Silver’s six years on the job are a stroll in the park. This year’s part of the walk has been full of peril and Silver has so far been up to the challenge.

And that’s how I see it for this week. Thanks for listening and enjoy the games.


Get in touch


Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @SportsAtLarge


Milton Kent hosted the weekly commentary Sports at Large from its creation in 2002 to its finale in July 2013. He has written about sports locally and nationally since 1988, covering the Baltimore Orioles, University of Maryland men's basketball, women's basketball and football, the Washington Wizards, the NBA, men's and women's college basketball and sports media for the Baltimore Sun and AOL Fanhouse. He has covered the World Series, the American and National League Championship Series, the NFL playoffs, the NBA Finals and 17 NCAA men's and women's Final Fours. He currently teaches journalism at Morgan State University.