New NBA Commissioner Adam Silver attended tonight’s Kings/Raptors game at Sleep Train Arena. Along with Kings majority owner Vivek Ranadivé, he spoke with media at halftime of the contest.
“He has come to Sacramento (and) it’s a huge honor for the franchise and the city,” Ranadivé said of Silver. “And I said to the new commissioner that it’s appropriate that commissioner 3.0 comes to (visit) franchise 3.0. He’s gonna be, I believe, one of the best leaders of any sports (league) and it’s a huge honor to have my friend Adam here.”
Here are some of the highlights of what Silver said to the throng of media at this evening’s game.
- Silver talked about how thrilled he is to be in Sacramento and that this is his first road trip since taking over as commissioner on Saturday. He said that he spent some time before the game going over Sacramento’s arena plans and was excited with what he saw. “It’s sort of an inside-outside vision of Vivek’s and his partners,” Silver said. “And everything appears to be on track and we remain excited and thrilled with the opportunity here.”
- The new commissioner was asked how worried he is about the political opposition to the new arena. Ranadivé intervened on behalf of Silver saying: “We’re gonna be on schedule with this arena. I know they’re called STOP, (but) this is a go. It’s gonna be a go all the way.” Silver added that he and the league have no worries regarding the prospects of the new arena.
- Why is Silver not worried that there won’t be any hiccups in Sacramento’s arena plan? ”I’m confident because I’ve known Kevin Johnson for over 20 years,” he said. “I knew him as a player, I knew him as a broadcaster and obviously I know him as a mayor now. I’ve sat in literally dozens of meetings with lawyers, political advisors, political leaders both from Sacramento and from California. And (in) talking to Vivek and his partners that I’m absolutely confident that it’s going to get done.”
- How much input has Silver and the league had on the arena plan? “We’ve had a lot of input from the beginning. I mean you guys know, David Stern made this a priority for the league over the last several years, so we’ve been very involved. I’ve been right there with David on most of the trips. I’ve sat in all the meetings in New York and Vivek and I have been in regular touch since he bought the franchise.”
- Silver on what it meant to keep the Kings in Sacramento: “Personally for me I’ve been with the league for 22 years. As David has said many times, we want to see communities rewarded that have supported teams in the way that Sacramento has and also we think stability is very important for the league. And here you have a franchise that’s been tremendous over the years. There was a bit of rocky times but people stepped up. People like Vivek and his partners made a huge commitment to this community and in turn the community made a huge commitment to them and this is where the team should be.”
- Silver discussed some of his priorities in his new job. He mentioned that he’s focused on not only growing the league globally but continuing to grow the game in the United States as well. “We should be a rival of the NFL’s,” Silver said. “It’s the number one participation sport in this country. In fact, I believe Vivek first got involved because his daughter played and it’s a wonderful game.”
- Silver said that the NBA would be open to having an All-Star Game in Sacramento some day. But before that can happen, the city has to build its new arena.
- Silver arrived in Sacramento later than anticipated, which put his plans to visit the arena site on hold today. He plans on touring the Downtown Plaza tomorrow before he leaves town.
- The new commissioner characterized the next TV deal as “probably the top business priority right now only because it is so important for us in terms of it’s how our game’s reached.” He said that a media committee was named at the league office and that he’s talking to many of the owners involved in technology on a regular basis. He wouldn’t put a timeline on negotiations for a new deal, but mentioned that he loves the partnership with ABC/ESPN and Turner right now. However, he seemed to suggest the NBA will weigh their options when the time comes.
- Silver plans to visit India with Ranadivé and fellow co-owner Raj Bhathal in the spring. He mentioned that Chris Mullin, Shaquille O’Neal and potentially tennis legend John McEnroe will tag along on the trip as well.
- Will India host a preseason game some day? Silver thinks it’s a possibility, but not yet because they don’t have the right facility to host a game. He’s aware that it’s one of Ranadivé’s goals to host a Sacramento Kings game in India.