When Adam Silver became NBA Commissioner in 2014, NBA fans largely rejoiced more for the departure of David Stern than for Silver himself. Stern had built the NBA up to new heights from when he took over in 1984, but he had attracted tons of controversy over the years and fans wanted a change. Silver was that change, and fans viewed him as the person who could lead the NBA away from Stern and towards a better NBA.
But you either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain, and Silver may be morphing into the next NBA villain. Silver has had great moments such as kicking racist slumlord Donald Sterling out of the league, and the recent NBA Finals hit ratings records not seen since the legendary 1998 NBA Finals. But Silver has attracted controversy with some of his recent decisions, and the honeymoon between fans and Commissioner may soon be over.
Money, money, money
Did you remember the NBA still has not officially announced the regular season league MVP? No one cares about the regular season in Seattle with the playoffs over, especially as everyone knows that Russell Westbrook is the winner. But this useless awards show is not set to happen until June 26, two weeks after the end of the postseason.
In past years, MVP winners often received their trophies and hoisted in front of a cheering playoff cloud, most famously when Allen Iverson did it before scoring 52 points in a 2001 playoff game. So why has the NBA removed this magical moment in favor of this ridiculous show? Because an awards show means more advertising revenue, just like putting advertisements on jerseys which will begin being displayed next season.
It is not like the NBA is in bad shape and needs the money, and these efforts to grab even more money are disgraceful to the league and its fans. While the NBA is fundamentally about profit, it is frustrating to see just how low the NBA will go to grab more of that sweet ad revenue at the expense of actual fans.
The Continual Officiating Problem
Lots of people watched the NBA Finals and the games were played at an offensive level perhaps never matched in NBA history. But the most memorable game was Game 4, the one game the Cleveland Cavaliers won. Not because of the Cleveland victory or because of how Kyrie Irving went nuts scoring 40 points, but because of terrible officiating which saw the game go completely out of control.
NBA fans blamed Stern for years as they claimed he rigged series like the 2002 Western Conference Finals or the 2005 first-round series between Dallas and Houston. While the 2017 Finals were clearly not rigged, moments like Game 4 show that the NBA has failed to improve officiating even after years of complaints and calls for fairness.
Adam Silver has done plenty of good things, but he has also made some bad decisions in the name of profit and not in promoting the integrity of the league. For now, most fans still view Silver favorably. But bad decisions are remembered more than good ones. If Silver continues his money-grubbing ways, it could very well be that in 20 years, fans will cheer the new NBA commissioner and hope that he can take the NBA away from the Silver era.