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October 8, 2017

Adam Silver

New York, New York

ADAM SILVER: Thank you very much. I very much appreciate all of you being here today. This is our 24th game in China, and incidentally, our very first game in 2004 was here in Shanghai, so it's wonderful to be here to play our 24th.

Of course, when we first played in Shanghai, this beautiful Mercedes-Benz Arena did not exist. But since it was built, we've used it for six consecutive years. I would say it's a fantastic, state-of-the-art facility and one of the best we play in anywhere in the world.

I'd like to thank the Golden State Warriors for making their third trip to participate in the NBA China Games, particularly Joe Lacob and Peter Guber, their owners, who I just saw and are here with their team. And I'd also like to thank the Minnesota Timberwolves and their owner Glen Taylor. It's the Minnesota Timberwolves' first trip to China to play in these games.

We're just concluding a busy summer of NBA basketball in China. Twenty-five current players traveled to China this summer, players like Steph Curry, like Russell Westbrook. Some of the biggest stars in the league chose to be here during their offseason in order to engage directly with our fans here in China. In addition, 15 NBA legends traveled here this summer as well.

In the 13 years since we played our first game here in China, we've seen enormous growth in interest in the game of basketball and the NBA. For example, this past season, over 750 million people in China watched at least one NBA game on television through either CCTV, Tencent, BesTV or one of our other regional partners here in China.

This past season, we've gone into the academy and the grassroots basketball business here in China. We are in the process of developing three academies for elite players. In addition, we have a host of grassroots programs throughout the country, and we're working directly with the Chinese Basketball Association, which of course is now run by Yao Ming. Yao is here tonight. We've spent time with him today, and I would say together with FIBA, we are very focused on continuing to build the game of basketball in China.

With that, I'm happy to answer any questions you have.

Q. How were the Warriors and Timberwolves chosen for the game this year, and do teams have obligations to play international games?
ADAM SILVER: That's a good question. The teams do have obligations to play international games, but not in any particular year. In essence, we work with teams to see who has the most interest in playing in a particular market, and also we want teams that the market also wants to see. In the case of the Golden State Warriors, I read a quote the other day from Rick Welts, who is the president of the team, who said he would like the Warriors to be China's team. So I think that's one of the reasons they wanted to come. And the Timberwolves, a young and up-and-coming team. In addition, their owner Glen Taylor serves on the board of NBA China.

Q. What do you think of Zhou Qi? What do you think of his performance in the NBA? And also as a Chinese player, what do you think is his role in the development of the NBA in China?
ADAM SILVER: I've had an opportunity to see Zhou Qi play on television in the preseason. I'm very pleased to see he's part of the Houston Rockets' roster. I'm trying to take the pressure off him by saying let's give him an opportunity to develop. I know that given the enormous focus of the entire country on Zhou Qi's playing, I think that we all have to be realistic in terms of our expectations. He's a young player. It takes a long time to develop in the NBA. But I believe he could truly be a great player, and he has great character as well. So I think he'll be an excellent representative of the people of China in the NBA.

Q. Now that the league has changed the formatting for the All-Star Game, is there any more consideration to reformat the postseason 1 through 16 regardless of conference affiliation?
ADAM SILVER: Reformatting the playoffs is something we'll continue to look at. I think, though, it would require revisiting the regular-season schedule as well. As I've said before, we don't play a balanced schedule now, as I'm sure you [ESPN.com reporter Nick Friedell] know. For those who don't, that means that teams in the East play each other more than they play teams in the West. Our feeling is if we were going to seed 1 through 16, we would need to play a balanced schedule to make it fair for everyone.

It may be that as we continue to experiment with the number of days over which we can schedule 82 games that it will create more of an opportunity for a balanced schedule. Right now -- well, let me just add to that, too. I said the other day to [USA Today reporter] Sam Amick, who's here, that there's no magic in an 82-game season. I think it's not a change you're going to see in the short term, but I think when we step back and look holistically at our schedule and how the playoffs are seeded, we should look at the entire format.

Counterbalancing seeding the teams 1 through 16 is also the desire to create more rest for our players, and when possible reduce the amount of travel. In adding the extra week to the regular season this year, we were able to eliminate completely four games out of five nights, which I think is the first time in the history of the league we were able to do that. Plus, we have back-to-backs at an all-time low. If we took the existing format and the existing schedule and then we seeded playoffs 1 through 16, we'll be adding additional travel because you could have teams crisscrossing the country in the first round. But I understand the interest in doing that.

We do seed the WNBA playoff schedule regardless of conferences, and that's been very successful. It's resulted, for example, in a fantastic five-game [Finals] series the last two seasons.

We're going to continue looking at it. Again, the East and West, the balance fluctuates back and forth. It hasn't moved as quickly back to the East as it has historically, but at the end of the day we want to produce the best possible competition. So we'll keep examining it.

Q. What is the NBA's business strategy in China in terms of maintaining market leadership?
ADAM SILVER: Our business strategy is continue to do the things that we've been doing. I was asked earlier what the secret to our success is, and I said, I don't think there is any secret other than longevity. I said, so much credit goes to David Stern for his initial vision to move the NBA into China before other sports leagues were seen on television here.

The idea is just to continue executing on the ground. We have David Shoemaker here, who is the CEO of NBA China. He has roughly 175 people who work for him, mainly here in Shanghai and in Beijing. We do very much similar things that we do in the United States. We work grassroots with young people. We work with marketing partners. We work with merchandisers. But it's just to keep trying to convince one consumer at a time to enjoy NBA basketball.

Q. Obviously, as you know with trips to China, there's always the logistics part with the travel and the practice schedule and other events. But because the preseason has been shortened starting this year, do you anticipate any tweaks to how future trips in China are?
ADAM SILVER: It's a great question. One thing I want to make clear, there's the same amount of time this year from the point the teams return to the States and their first [regular-season] game. As you know, the Warriors open October 17, so they'll have more than a full week back in the States before they start.

But I think we're learning new things with the preseason schedule. I would say I've heard some of the comments from the coach and some of the players about the disruption in their schedule. I will say, that unfortunately is nothing new.

As I said, this is our 24th game here in China, and since I joined the NBA in the early '90s, probably 150 games outside of the United States, the vast majority of which I've been to. It's asking a lot of the players and the teams. We recognize that, that they try to get a lot done in the preseason. They want to get court time for new players. Guys are also trying to get back into game shape. So it's a balance in terms of expanding the league, finding new fans, but also ensuring that our players are in game shape once the season starts.

Q. When Yao Ming was elected as the president of Chinese Basketball Association, what was your reaction to that? And since you have talked with him this afternoon, I want to know what kind of plans or blueprints of cooperation you see for the future between Chinese basketball and the NBA.
ADAM SILVER: Thanks. I was thrilled for Yao Ming when he was appointed the head of the CBA. I have known him ever since he joined the league as a player. He has a passion for the game of basketball, and he also has a passion for growing it here in China. And I know that he has, over the years, had many ideas on how things should be done in terms of both growing the game at a grassroots level and ensuring that elite players are coming out of the system as well.

So we were overjoyed when we heard the announcement. Because we have such a close personal relationship, I knew he would be somebody that I could work closely with on continuing to develop the game here in China.

Q. How important is it and how meaningful is it to play games in China from a business perspective?
ADAM SILVER: I think it's very meaningful for us to play games here, even though it's a very small part of our business. As you know being with Tencent, increasingly this is a media business, and no different than in the United States, where only a very small portion of our fans ever get to step foot in an NBA arena and see NBA players and a game in person. But at the same time, I think being here, as our teams have been in the country for essentially a week, it's an opportunity not just to play two games but to work on NBA Cares projects, to work throughout the communities, to participate in clinics.

It also gives our players a much better sense of what China is all about. They also, in addition to their basketball activities, get to see the sights. They walk on the streets and eat in the restaurants and shop. For such an important market for the NBA, it really gives our players and our teams a much better feel of this country.

While the main growth in the business is going to come through media, I still think it's very important that we have a presence here and that we continue to play games every season.

I just want to thank everyone again for being here, particularly those members of the media who traveled from the United States for these games. We very much appreciate the coverage. Enjoy the game, everyone.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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