NBA Commissioner Adam Silver spoke out against the latest trend of athletes banding together to form super teams.
Kevin Durant’s decision to join the Golden State Warriors in free agency, adding one of the very best basketball players in the world to a star-studded core fresh off winning an NBA-record 73 games and coming within a few minutes of back-to-back NBA titles, has led many observers to all but crown the Warriors as next year’s champions and decry what they perceive as an inevitable elimination of competitive balance throughout the league. While commentators’ anger has tended to focus on Durant for choosing to join the Warriors rather than staying with the Oklahoma City Thunder and attempting to beat them, some have also turned their attention to the NBA itself, wondering how a team that already employs the two-time reigning Most Valuable Player and two highly paid All-Stars could also be allowed to pony up a max deal for Durant without running afoul of salary-cap restrictions … and wondering whether maybe the rules should be changed to prevent such super-powered team-ups in the future.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver discussed the ramifications of Durant-to-the-Warriors during a press conference after the league’s Board of Governors meeting at Las Vegas Summer League on Tuesday night, a meeting he said featured “a robust discussion in the room of various views of player movement that we’ve seen.” His response suggests that while he doesn’t begrudge players their right to move as they see fit within the rules, he’s still interested in pursuing changes to the league’s structure that would make it harder for them to come together.
“I’ve read several stories suggesting that that’s something that the league wants, this notion of two super-teams, that it’s a huge television attraction,” Silver said. “I don’t think it’s good for the league, just to be really clear. I will say whoever is the prohibitive favorite, try telling that to the 430 other players who aren’t on those two teams. I mean, we have the greatest collection of basketball players in the world in our league, and so I’m not making any predictions, but there’s no question, when you aggregate a group of great players, they have a better chance of winning than many other teams.
“On the other hand, there are lots of things that have to happen. We’ll see what happens in Golden State,” he continued. “You had a great, great chemistry among a group of players and you’re adding another superstar to the mix, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens. But just to be absolutely clear, I do not think that’s ideal from a league standpoint.”
Silver’s concerns about the Warriors’ newly stacked deck stem from an issue that he referenced repeatedly as deputy commissioner under David Stern during the 2011 lockout: “competitive balance.”
Many outside the league office have looked skeptically at claims that measures like limiting individual player salaries, instituting harder team salary caps and establishing more punitive luxury taxes have any real impact on teams’ wins and losses. Some viewed calls for increased competitive balance as a red herring to distract from a push to reduce the share of basketball-related income received by players in the last round of collective bargaining. That push worked, by the way, with owners kicking players’ tails at the negotiating table and dropping players’ share of BRI from 57 percent in the last CBA to a 49 percent-to-51 percent band in the current system. That amounts to an estimated $3 billion haircut over the life of the 2011 agreement.
As ESPN.com’s Zach Lowe wrote earlier this week, though, Silver “truly believed it was possible to engineer greater parity” through the implementation of measures like the harsher luxury and repeater taxes. Silver believes the league has moved in the right direction on that score — a point some might argue — but still sees room for improvement.
“In terms of so-called competitive balance, we’ve had five years of now this collective bargaining agreement, going into the sixth year, and we’ve had four different teams win over the last five years, so I view that very positive from a competitive balance standpoint,” Silver said. “I don’t necessarily want to overreact to a particular situation.”
“I think we can make the system even better, and I think it is critically important that fans in every market have that belief that if their team is well-managed that they can compete,” he added. “Certainly, it’s important to me that markets in this league, those that are perceived as small, as those that are larger, all feel like they have an equal chance.”
Mediaoutrage– Your thoughts???