NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is about to celebrate his 10th anniversary in office. It will not be his last.
Silver is finalizing an extension to remain as commissioner of the NBA for several more years, a person with knowledge of the agreement said Saturday night. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because no announcement from the league had been made.
ESPN, which first reported the agreement, said Silver's new deal will stretch “through the end of the decade." It's the second time the league's owners have approved an extension for Silver, who also got one in June 2018 that had him under contract through the end of this season's NBA Finals.
Silver became commissioner on Feb. 1, 2014, officially succeeding former Commissioner David Stern — his mentor. That move had been in the works for years; Stern officially announced his retirement more than a year earlier and the Board of Governors unanimously approved the plan to have Silver, the longtime deputy commissioner, take over.
“He’s been a great leader who built on David’s legacy and really turned us in to a major multinational organization,” said Mark Cuban, who until recently had been the primary owner of the Dallas Mavericks.
And the league has seen enormous success under Silver, who has overseen the ratification of two Collective Bargaining Agreements between the league and its players since he became commissioner — he also was the lead negotiator, then as deputy commissioner, when the NBA and its players struck a deal in 2011. The most recent CBA went into effect this season, ensuring labor peace in the NBA for several more years at minimum.
Silver also led the league in its talks on what became a nine-year, $24 billion media rights deal with ESPN and Turner Sports — sending revenue skyrocketing (from around $4.8 billion in his first season to an estimated $13 billion this season) and, in turn, serving as the catalyst to have player salaries soar as well. The league is currently negotiating its next media deal, one that is generally expected to be worth more than the existing agreement. And once the media rights deal is done, the NBA is expected to consider expansion.
“All the salaries are going up. NBA’s making money. So, he’s done a phenomenal job,” Los Angeles Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said Saturday night. "I’m glad. He can stay as long as he wants as long as I’m around. He’s been great.”
Values of franchises have also soared; the average price of an NBA team was around $510 million when Silver took office, and now the average value is nearly $4 billion. The highest salary in the league when Silver became commissioner was Kobe Bryant at around $30 million; it's now Stephen Curry at around $52 million this season.
"The NBA’s reach is expansive, though in many ways we are just scratching the surface in terms of our international growth," Silver wrote in an essay for AP to commemorate the league's 75th anniversary in 2022.
He guided the league through the COVID-shortened season of 2019-20, the one where the league brought 22 teams into a bubble at Walt Disney World near Orlando, Florida, to finish the regular season and hold the entirety of the playoffs. Silver also successfully navigated a very difficult opening few weeks in office; less than three months into his tenure he banned then-Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling from the league for life over racist comments.
The 61-year-old Silver is a Duke graduate and, like Stern, left the legal field to join the NBA. He joined the league as Stern’s special assistant — “he read everything I asked him to read," Stern said in 2014 — before being the league's chief of staff, running NBA Entertainment for about a decade and then taking over as deputy commissioner in 2006.
Silver is the fifth commissioner of the league, predated by Stern, Larry O'Brien, J. Walter Kennedy and Maurice Podoloff.
AP Sports Writer Kyle Hightower in Boston contributed.
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