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June 8, 2014

Adam Silver


THE MODERATOR:  Good evening ladies and gentlemen.  We're going to get started here in a moment.  The Commissioner is at the podium.  Thank you.
COMMISSIONER ADAM SILVER:  Thank you, Tim.  I want to begin by congratulating the Spurs and the Miami on being back here at the Finals.  The Arison family, Micky and Nick Arison, who run the Miami Heat one of the best organizations in all sports, and of course the San Antonio Spurs, Peter Holt and his family and many partners and also one of the best organizations run in not only the NBA but in any league.  So congratulations to them.
Secondly, this Finals is anything a basketball fan could have asked for; a rematch of course which we haven't seen for years, two terrific teams, one of the great coaches, Gregg Popovich maybe in league history going for his fifth league championship, the Miami Heat and Coach Spo going for that rare threepeat.  Again, everything basketball fans could have hoped for.
And we have in LeBron and Tim Duncan two of the best ever, who have played in this league, and for all we know LeBron is just getting started.
I should add in terms of the San Antonio Spurs, their great trio of Tim, Manu and Tony are now the three winningest trio who played together in NBA history.  What else could you want?
We've also had tremendous excitement throughout these playoffs.¬† We had five Game 7s, which is a record, in the first round.¬† We had terrific match‑ups throughout and we set an all‑time shooting percentage record in this year's Conference Finals, which Rod told me.
Let me finish by saying the state of the game has never been better.  We're enjoying record popularity, that is the game of basketball is enjoying record popularity at all levels, and in fact there is a renaissance going on in this country around this game.
Second, the business of the NBA has never been better and we're incredibly hopeful for a terrific future.  With that I'm happy to answer any questions you have.

Q.  Adam, when does the Board of Governors plan on approving the sale to Steve Balmer?  And has the $2 billion price tag created an overly inflated marketplace for NBA teams.
COMMISSIONER ADAM SILVER:  I'll answer the second question first.  The market is what it is, so I don't think it's overinflated in any way, and there were several other bidders, in addition to Steve Ballmer, as you know for the Clippers, and many came fairly close to the price he ultimately paid.  So I have confidence that's what the market it.
In terms of our owners approving Steve Ballmer, there is a few steps left in the process, a few additional things he needs to do in his deal with Shelly and Donald Sterling.¬† And then we have our Advisory Finance Committee, which is our executive committee, still needs to interview him.¬† There is additional vetting that needs to go on.¬† We have a prescheduled Board of Governors meeting for mid‑July.¬† So we will either vote at that meeting or possibly if all those steps are completed before then, we will vote earlier than that.

Q.  What needs to be resolved between Donald and Shelly Sterling?
COMMISSIONER ADAM SILVER:  So Donald Sterling still has a pending lawsuit against the league.  He sued the league and me individually, based on not only the planned termination hearing but the ban as well as the fine.
Now, Shelly Sterling has indemnified us against that lawsuit, and we have been told by Shelly Sterling's lawyers that she and Donald plan to work out their remaining dispute, but that hasn't happened yet.

Q.  I was curious, your thoughts on how things transpired here the other night with regard to the climate?  And second to that, we have now had obviously three straight days of a lot of discussion of human physiology, cramping, all kinds of things.  Are you concerned about the possibility that we're going to remember these Finals as the one where the greatest player on the court could not finish the game, possibly affecting the outcome of that game and the outcome of this series?
COMMISSIONER ADAM SILVER:  First, I'm glad that this isn't single elimination; it's the best of seven.  So it's too early to say how this Finals will be remembered.  My sense is having been involved with the League for a long time, there will be all kinds of great moments that will happen, Game 2 going forward, which will stand out more than the heat in Game 1.
I am satisfied that the problem has been resolved.  There has been a concert in the building since Game 1.  Friday night there was a concert, there was a WNBA game last night that went into double overtime.  Air conditioning is obviously running fine in the building now and they've taken precautions to ensure something like that doesn't happen again.
I would say that it's certainly not one of my prouder moments in my shorten tenure as commissioner so far, but it's the nature of this game.  There always are going to be human and mechanical errors and it's unfortunate.

Q.  What's your view of how well it was handled here the other night?  It wasn't announced to the fans until the end of the third quarter.  It's not clear when the teams learned of it so they could adjust to it.  How do you feel it was handled as it unfolded?
COMMISSIONER ADAM SILVER:  In hindsight it wasn't handled perfectly, but they'd never been confronted with that issue before.  We in the league office, and not just me as Commissioner, but I've been with the league office for more than 22 years now, I'd never dealt with a situation like that before.  They were consulting with us throughout.  We had Rod Thorn of course was here as head of Basketball Operations.
I was at the game as well.  We were monitoring conditions on the floor, Rod was in constant contact and discussion with the officials, and there was never a point where we were considering either postponing or cancelling the game.

Q.  Adam, we're just over six weeks removed from when you stood up and spoke in Memphis about the Donald Sterling situation.  That's not a lot of time.  I'm just wondering what stands out for you in terms of how your various constituencies handled that, given the emotions involved and how it hit so many people?
COMMISSIONER ADAM SILVER:  You know what stands out is how the league came together at that moment, from that Saturday in Memphis.  I'm very proud of the owners that are in this league, that remain in this league.  Glen Taylor, our chairman of the board, who I was in steady contact with.  Peter Holt, the owner of the Spurs, who was the former chairman, was helpful to me, and plus we have an Advisory Finance Committee of another seven owners who dealt with this situation.  And I'm also proud of the players in this league, the way they stepped up, I thought, as partners of the owners and we worked through this.
No sides made threats.  We recognized we had a difficult situation we had to deal with, as I've said before.  Doc Rivers was terrific in the way he led his team.  Kevin Johnson, the mayor of Sacramento, who happened to be involved already with the Players Association, because he's leading the search, he did a terrific job.  So I would say I've never been prouder of the entire NBA family.

Q.  What have you been telling those people in terms of what's required now to get this across the finish line?
COMMISSIONER ADAM SILVER:  We're almost there.  There is this last piece, and that is the lawsuit that Donald brought against the League and me personally.
I have absolute confidence it will be resolved because as part of the sale agreement with Shelly Sterling, she agreed to indemnify the League against a lawsuit by her husband.  So in essence, Donald is suing himself and he knows that.  While I understand he is frustrated, I think it's over.  I think it's just a matter of time now, and then we will move on to better topics and back to the Finals.

Q.  Specifically when did the NBA learn that the air conditioning had malfunctioned in Game 1, what time?
COMMISSIONER ADAM SILVER:  We learned shortly after the game began, so that was a little bit after 8 p.m. local time.  We were told that there was a problem with one of the main circuits that controls the water pumps.  We were told the circuit, in essence, the break that triggered, and we were told that they were working on resetting the breaker.  In fact, it turned out they tried to reset it several times, and it wasn't until late in the second quarter that they ultimately determined they could not fix that circuit breaker.
We were informed shortly before halftime that they would be unable to fix the air conditioning.

Q.  In your investigation after the fact did you find out exactly when the air conditioner went down?
COMMISSIONER ADAM SILVER:  It was roughly around 7:55 local time we were told that the light first triggered on the circuit breaker, and they realized they had an issue.

Q.  Adam, the attorney for Mr.Sterling has seemed to intimate that there is a possibility that either the lifetime ban or the fine could be or has been rescinded.  Is there any circumstance under which either of those things would happen?
COMMISSIONER ADAM SILVER:  There is absolutely no possibility that the lifetime ban will be rescinded or that the fine will be changed in any way.

Q.  Donald Sterling has still not signed the agreement; is that correct?  The sale agreement?
COMMISSIONER ADAM SILVER:  Donald hasn't signed the sale agreement but under their trust agreement, it's not necessary that he sign the trust agreement because Shelly went through this process outlined in the trust, and in essence in which Donald was found incapacitated and unable to sign on his own behalf.

Q.  If he doesn't sign or doesn't drop the lawsuit, is there any situation in which you would reschedule the board hearing that was cancelled?  And just from a larger point, your first couple months, everything you have faced, I assume you don't have an air conditioning background, some of the things that have come up, how do you feel about how it's gone so far?
COMMISSIONER ADAM SILVER:  We'll see.  It's early days.  I've done the best I could.  Just to answer your first question, I don't foresee anytime in which we would be rescheduling that termination hearing.  I guess anything can happen.  Again, I take very seriously the fact that he has a pending lawsuit against the League.  So I want to make sure that's resolved before we say this is behind us, but I have absolute confidence it will be.
In terms of the League what I'm most pleased about is the state of the game.  As I said earlier, it's truly a basketball renaissance and that's at all levels; record popularity, our ratings were up for the first game, never had more discussion about the NBA on social media and I'm very confident about the future.

Q.¬† Do you sense that there is any movement toward changing the one‑and‑done rule?
COMMISSIONER ADAM SILVER:¬† I sense there is a little bit of movement.¬† Ron Klempner, who is the executive director of the union said at a sports forum recently that it was something that the union was willing to discuss and certainly an individual, one‑on‑one conversations I have had with players as I travel around the league, my sense is that they're willing to discuss it as well.¬† The ongoing issue is that until we have a new executive director of the union, we're not going to sit down and have any real serious discussions on the topic.

Q.¬† Commissioner, are you comfortable with Shelly Sterling maintaining a post‑ownership role with the Clippers that includes a presence at games?
COMMISSIONER ADAM SILVER:¬† When you say "post‑ownership role," yes, she is going to continue to attend games.¬† There has never been a ban against Shelly Sterling.¬† She can go to any game she wants and always could, even after Donald's ban.¬† Other than that, that she won't have any role with the Clippers going forward.

Q.  There won't be a foundation that the Clippers will be part of?
COMMISSIONER ADAM SILVER:  Shelly, and I encouraged her to do this, has a right to elect that a portion of the proceeds from the sale be placed directly into a foundation in which she would have control.  But in essence that's her money.  It comes from the sale of the team.  It will not be a Clippers foundation, it will be a Shelly Sterling foundation or some other name she chooses.  And as I said, that is something I encouraged her to do, and I hope she does do.

Q.  Have you had a chance to sit down or talk on the phone with Donald Sterling?
COMMISSIONER ADAM SILVER:  We haven't sat down together but we have talked on the phone subsequent to the ruling that the League made on that tape.

Q.  And can you share anything about the conversation?
COMMISSIONER ADAM SILVER:  I would only say that I certainly learned nothing new from that conversation with him.  He was distraught; it was shortly after that Tuesday press conference that I had held, but he was not remorseful at that time.

Q.  During the lockout we heard a lot of things, competitive balance, parity issues, that sort of thing.  There is the potential for some fairly significant player movement this summer.  With a repeat Finals with basically the power of the league not seeming to change a whole lot under the new CBA, so far anyway.  Do you anticipate many changes this summer?  Do you think that the league should be happy right now with the competitive balance leaguewide?
COMMISSIONER ADAM SILVER:¬† Well, first, we have a Competition Committee scheduled for July.¬† I don't anticipate there will be major changes for next year, because it's a new process, I'm a new commissioner.¬† We have a long list of issues we want to look at that affect playoff seeding, that affect the lottery, possible play‑in tournaments, other issues that have come up.¬† I think we have to be deliberate about making changes like that.¬† So I don't anticipate that from Julywe need to have discussions with the full board as well, so I don't anticipate anything for next year.
I am happy with the level of competition in the league.  One of the things we sought for in terms of competitive balance was ensuring that every team in the league, regardless of market size, had an opportunity to compete.  I think we're seeing that now under this collective bargaining agreement.  All four teams in the Conference Finals are from the bottom half of the league in terms of market size.  It's far from perfect and we didn't get everything we wanted in the last collective bargaining agreement.  I think a hard cap or a harder cap would lead to even more competitive balance, but I'm pleased with what we've seen so far.

Q.  As far as you're aware, does any aspect of the negotiation of the ownership transfer of the Clippers have to do with the possible ownership stake for Doc Rivers?  And is that something that you would either oppose or be in favor of for whatever reason?
COMMISSIONER ADAM SILVER:¬† No, I'm not aware‑‑ there is no aspect of the ownership transfer that has to do with Doc Rivers or any other potential partner of Steve Ballmer, and he has not floated that to us or proposed that to us.¬† What Steve has told us is that while he's the 100% owner of the team now, he intends to move forward and close as the 100% owner.¬† And all he's told me is that he would then look to bring in other partners, but that would be premature right now.

Q.  Your high level of confidence that these remaining issues will be resolved, does that result from the assurances from Shelly Sterling that she would indemnify the League against the lawsuit, essentially take responsibility for it, or have you received any communication from Donald Sterling or his representatives that they will, in fact, drop it?
COMMISSIONER ADAM SILVER:  Initially there was a communication from Donald Sterling's representatives that they intended to sign at agreement, but obviously I can't hold them to that.
So, yes, it's the indemnification agreement but also discussions I have had with Shelly, where she has a high degree of confidence that this will be worked out between her and Donald.

Q.  Looking back, what regrets do you have about the way the NBA handled Sterling and his issues in the past?
COMMISSIONER ADAM SILVER:  It's a good question, but I would only say I don't have any specific regrets.  You know, in hindsight should we have done more to investigate Donald?  I'm frankly not sure.  In this case, I mean, in addition to the fact that this tape in essence was broadcast to the world and so quickly became available to us, in the past these were issues that did not directly impact the NBA.  And we're not the government.  He was investigated by the Department of Housing, the Department of Justice.  There were individual lawsuits with him that settled out.
So I was at the League during that time, and when we monitored those events, at least it felt at that time that we were doing the appropriate thing.  It's a fair point that in hindsight possibly we should have done more.  Certainly if I had to do it again, maybe we would have done more but our eyes are open going forward.

Q.  Any update you can share on television rights negotiations, the timeline and the status of that?  Also is HGH testing still being held up by the lack of the executive director with the union?
COMMISSIONER ADAM SILVER:¬† So on television discussions, as I said before, we're pleased with our current partners in the Disney Company and Time Warner‑Turner.¬† We have discussions set for next week in Miami and those discussions are ongoing.¬† It's still my hope that we extend early before we get to the market, but we'll see.¬† We'll see how those discussions go.
On HGH testing, yes, those discussions are still being held up‑‑ in part by the fact that we don't have a new executive director, and we're also, I think, being held hostage a little bit by the NFL negotiations as well between the League and the union, because ultimately it's the same lawyers representing the NFL Players' Association as the NBA Players' Association.

Q.  The longevity of the Spurs and that nucleus is admired but if, say, the Miami Heat were forced to break up because of the new CBA or the Oklahoma City Thunder couldn't keep their team together, could that be viewed as a success for thenew CBA?
COMMISSIONER ADAM SILVER:  I don't know if I would necessarily call it a success.  Our goal was not to break up teams.  We had a transition in which the more hasher luxury tax would be implemented.  But ultimately, any type of cap system in essence is a form of player sharing.  So, yes, to the extent that James Harden leaves Oklahoma City and the Houston Rockets then become a competitive team, that's a positive thing for the league.  And part of the purpose of a cap system is so you don't see too much talent aggregated in one market.
On the other hand I don't want to take anything away from the Spurs and the Heat.  While the players are a critical component, the players were attracted and remained in those markets because of the quality of the coaching and the quality of the management, and hats off to these organizations.  And my sense is the better managed organizations are going to be successful regardless of the system.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you. 

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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