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November 10, 2017

Adam Silver

New York, New York

Q. Chicago had its hat in the ring when you pulled the All-Star Game from Charlotte. Did that surprise you, and how much did that help with what's going on today?
ADAM SILVER: It surprised me a little bit given [Jerry Reinsdorf's] longstanding opposition. But as I said earlier, Mayor Emanuel was very persuasive. In addition, I did, of course, then talk to Jerry at the time, and he clearly had mellowed a bit over the years. I think that especially now with Michael [Reinsdorf] in day-to-day operations, and as I just heard Michael's son Joey being in favor of bringing it here, I think Jerry said, If everyone wants it here, it should be here. So that's how it happened.

Q. Was there competition for this game in 2020, and what put Chicago over the top?
ADAM SILVER: There was a lot of competition. I think what put Chicago over the top was the plan that the city had put together. As I said, Mayor Emanuel was very persuasive. Ultimately, a lot of it comes down to the organization, our organization in town as well, that being the Bulls. I think the fact that we hadn't been here since 1988, that they were so enthusiastic about having it back, that there have been new facilities built in town over the years, everything from Choose Chicago to the Sports Commission embracing it, as I said, it's really a week's worth of activities. So I think it all came together in a really terrific way.

Q. Did you see what happened here with the NFL Draft, the week of doing that. The NHL having the draft here, too, and seeing that --
ADAM SILVER: No, I didn't, and to the extent that I hadn't seen them, the Mayor made sure that I saw them. So I was very aware of the success of the other events here. Certainly the leagues all talk to each other, and the word was out that Chicago was making itself very easy to work with under Mayor Emanuel. So that certainly influenced our desire to be here.

Q. How much does the history here in Chicago help a decision like this?
ADAM SILVER: I think the history here makes a huge difference. As I said, I was here at University of Chicago Law School in 1988 and attended the All-Star Game then. Of course, since then we have the six championships, and I think that's made enormous impact. I think this is a city known throughout the world for excellence in basketball. And again, I think but for the fact that the organization wasn't all that interested in bringing the game and the festivities back in the interim, I'm sure we would have been here sometime earlier in the last 30 years. I think in a way when the Mayor and Michael Reinsdorf showed interest, it put them back to the top of the list in a way just because we like to rotate around the league, it's a major city and we hadn't been here in a long time.

Q. There's been no concerns about having a cold-weather city in the middle of February?
ADAM SILVER: Fortunately, most of our events are inside. Certainly we do some events out in the community, but our major events are arena-based. The cold weather itself isn't an issue. The issue we do get concern about is often when there's snow, it causes problems at airports. But short of that, we've been recently in New York, and it was particularly cold when we were there. We've been in Toronto. And I think people come from all over the world for our All-Star festivities. Our games are now broadcast in over 210 countries and territories. There's roughly close to 1,000 members of the international media, and they love coming to cities like Chicago. And they don't mind the cold weather. They come prepared for it. The only issue, again, and the one thing that we keep our fingers crossed is that we're not going to have major delays at the airports. Those are the only things that get in our way.

Q. What does the league do to balance the needs of the host team's season-ticket holders with the needs that the league has for a lot of sponsors and visitors?
ADAM SILVER: Well, that's always been an issue. I think, in fact, one of the hesitancies of Jerry Reinsdorf in bringing an All-Star Game here was that it does potentially displace some season-ticket holders. It's part of the issue for the home team that we're bringing in people all over the world, and of course we need those seats. What's helped since 1988 is because we now have all these other events, whether it be a Rookie-Sophomore game on Friday night, additional activities like a celebrity game, a huge Jam Session in town, it creates other opportunities to take care of the season-ticket holders. Also for the season-ticket holders, we may not be able to put them in their same seats, but to the extent we can, we try to take care of them at events.

So it's a balance. My sense for the season-ticket holders, many of whom I've talked to, I don't think their ultimate view is we'd rather not have it at all if we can't have our same seats. I think they still appreciate what it means for the community and what it means for the team to bring the All-Star festivities to Chicago.

Q. This is kind of a move away from the idea that if one hosts an All-Star Game they need to build a new arena --
ADAM SILVER: Well, they did build a new arena here, and we haven't been here since they built a new arena. I'm not necessarily saying we've moved away from that. I think what's happened, when new arenas do get built often and especially when they include partnerships with local municipalities, bond issuances and other things, our ability to bring an All-Star Game to town and the economic impact that it brings becomes important for that negotiation with the city and state. So it is something that's been on the table as we've seen new arenas built and we've seen other arenas revitalized.

Remember, in 1988 it was the old Chicago Stadium when we were here, so it will be the first time we have been to this new stadium. But it is something we keep on the table. I think it often is part of the discussion as we're seeing new arenas built or we're seeing, again, new investments go into existing arenas.

Q. Some of the cities with new arenas, were they not built on the 2020 game?
ADAM SILVER: No, it wasn't that. I think there were several other cities that were interested. We try over time to take care of all the cities that do want to have an All-Star Game. I think it just becomes a function of timing for some of the other cities that were building. Some of the refurbishments that are planned had not been completed yet, had not been finalized in terms of financing, so the timing just didn't work out. It's really more a function of scheduling.

I think we try to get everywhere, to every city that wants us, regardless of the size of the city or the climate.

Q. Switching topics, why was draft lottery reform so important to you, and how pleased are you with the way it turned out?
ADAM SILVER: Draft lottery reform was important to me because I think our teams were going down a path where even if they didn't think that a perpetual rebuild was ultimately the right strategy for winning a championship, there seemed to be enormous pressure on them, even from their fans and other people in the basketball community, as if that were the only way to build a team.

It felt to us at least, with the existing odds for the first, second and third pick, that it was almost too tempting to exclusively seek a rebuilding strategy as a way to build a championship team. So we changed the odds.

Again, it's not the first time we've tinkered with the draft lottery. We've changed the odds before. We realize when you change odds, those odds have to go somewhere else; it's a kind of zero-sum game. I don't think it's the perfect system yet, but drafts by definition aren't because in a way, what I learned at the University of Chicago is that we've put incentives on their head by rewarding the worst-performing teams in the league with the top picks. But that's just the very nature of drafts.

I'm pleased that we're going to be changing the odds, not for this season but for next year. It's a compromise of sorts, but I think it will appropriately focus teams on winning, which is first and foremost what they should be doing.

Q. I'm sure you would probably like more radical changes, but is there an end game for the changes that you have made that you may not have gotten this time?
ADAM SILVER: Not an end game to the extent that there's a different plan in the drawer that we're hoping to get to. Again, I've learned there are always unintended consequences. I think what we're going to monitor once we put the new changes in effect is how they play out. I will say that even in the last five, 10 years in particular, when you go back and look at drafts, because we're now pulling from a global pool of players, you're seeing a lot more talent lower down the draft. I think there was a sense, certainly some number of years ago, that the only difference-makers were top-three or top-five picks. Just look no further than Giannis [Antetokounmpo], of course, in Milwaukee, or Steph Curry was the seventh pick, or you have Draymond Green as a second-round pick or some of obviously the recent Bulls' picks. These drafts are very deep.

I think what it's demonstrating to our GMs is that you've got to strike the right balance. If you put a poor team on the floor, you're potentially hurting the culture of your team. You're hurting good young players who aren't necessarily developing the right habits. I think this will work itself out, that the GMs, the coaches, will realize it needs to be a balance and that just sort of a race to the bottom is not the most effective way to build championship teams.

Q. The Bulls were very forthcoming in their disclosures about working with the league to decide the proper suspension and discipline for Bobby Portis. Were you personally involved in that process, and what do you think about their final determination?
ADAM SILVER: The only part of the process I was involved in was the philosophy of deferring to the team to deal with discipline in a situation like that. And my view was that if the Basketball Operations at the league thought that this incident was getting proper attention from the team, the league did not need to step in. So that was my only involvement, and I do think they have handled it the right way.

Q. Are you concerned at all about any kind of civil suit action coming from the --
ADAM SILVER: I'm not, only because I haven't heard anything about any additional litigation.

Q. You mentioned other cities were competing for this bid. Indianapolis has been mentioned as one of those. Can they expect an All-Star Game anytime soon?
ADAM SILVER: Indianapolis continues to be in the running for an All-Star Game in the near future.

Q. Is 2021 a possibility?
ADAM SILVER: It is a possibility.

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