Who is the NBA Commissioner and what does he do?

The National Basketball Association (NBA), like any other established organization or association, has a top guy called Commissioner who runs it. While he does not own a basketball team, he is in-charge in the overall ins and outs of the league and the games. Like a Chief Executive Officer (CEO), the NBA Commissioner has the final say on the game schedules, arranging the referees, negotiating and broadcasting with TV groups and multi-billion contracts, and the game expansion. Plus, the discipline aspects of the league, players, and other people behind it.

Since the job entails an immense responsibility, the NBA Commissioner should be widely supported and favored by executives, players, coaches, and fans.

The Current NBA Commissioner

At present, the NBA Commissioner is Adam Silver. He was appointed on Feb. 1, 2014. As an NBA Commissioner, Silver oversees the international sports and media group established around five professional sports leagues:  the NBA, NBA 2K League, Basketball Africa League, WNBA, and NBA G League.

The leagues are geared toward promoting sports across the globe, embracing various technologies and innovations. The leagues also promoted transparency, utilizing basketball to unite people and push fitness and health.

Before becoming part of the NBA, Silver worked as a litigation associate at the New York law firm of Cravath, Swaine & Moore. Part of his job was focused on media and antitrust cases.  He also worked as a law clerk to Federal District Court Judge Kimba Wood in New York.  Silver finished from the University of Chicago Law School and Duke University.

In 2015, Silver was appointed to Duke University’s Board of Trustees.  In the same year, he was a recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award from Duke University and in 2016 from the University of Chicago Law School. 

In 2020, he received the University of Chicago’s Professional Achievement Award.  

A member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Business Council, Silver is also a Vice-Chairman of the Board of the Lustgarten Pancreatic Cancer Foundation. He also serves on the Board of Trustees for the Paley Center for Media and the Rockefeller Foundation.

In the information released by the NBA, it said that Silver served as NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer for eight years before becoming Commissioner.

“He has been instrumental to many of the league’s signature achievements, including the negotiation of three collective bargaining agreements with the National Basketball Players Association; the development of the WNBA, NBA G League, NBA 2K League and the Basketball Africa League; the partnership with Turner Broadcasting to manage the NBA’s digital assets; and the creation of NBA China and NBA Africa,” the NBA said in a statement.

Before Silver became the league’s second-in-command, Silver served for over eight years as President and COO, NBA Entertainment.  

Since Silver became a part of the league in 1992, he has also held the positions of Senior VP & COO, NBA Entertainment; NBA Chief of Staff; and Special Assistant to the Commissioner.

Awards and Citations received by Silver

Silver, known for his positive influence on the league, became the SportsBusiness Journal’s Executive of the Decade. Silver has been the Top 1 on the publication’s annual list of the 50 Most Influential People in Sports Business.

He was also acknowledged as Fortune’s World’s 50 Greatest Leaders, TIME’s 100 Most Influential People, the Bloomberg 50, and Bloomberg Businessweek’s list of 50 people who excelled in worldwide business.  

Furthermore, Silver has received awards as Sports Executive of the Year honors at the Sports Business Awards and Sports Illustrated’s Executive of the Year.

What does an NBA Commissioner do?

A man cheers for the Golden State Warriors at a watch party in downtown Oakland as the team approached a four-game sweep over the Cleveland Cavaliers to win the 2018 NBA Finals.

The NBA Commissioner is not an ordinary position. This prestigious position is built around trust, confidence, superb managerial skills, and teamwork.

As the president of this global association, the NBA Commissioner has numerous tasks that need thorough knowledge and particular experience as basketball has evolved over the years.

His works are broad. These roles include managing the schedules of various matches, arranging lawsuits, negotiating contacts, and giving the flow for the NBA Draft prospects.

Interestingly, the duties and functions of the NBA commissioner have undergone many changes since the league’s inception.

The NBA Commissioner is in charge of many things that steer the association’s direction and future. Through his leadership, the association’s administration is expected to grow and become successful. 

Some of the principal duties, tasks, and responsibilities of the NBA Commissioner

1. He takes action for legal cases against the league and also instigates lawsuits by the league as required.

2. He is the in-charge of bargaining contracts for TV game sponsorships, broadcasts, and franchise participation or ownership.

3. He handles the employment of the front office workers of the league.

4. He manages the provision of recommendations, guidelines, and other support regarding the crafting of rules, including the conduct of the games and draft eligibility.

5. He gives general direction over the draft of NBA prospects.

6. He manages the appraisal or updates of the suspended players of the leagues.

7. He checks the contract agreement to discipline erring players who violated the league’s rules, including the misbehavior during the games and the policy on personal conduct.

8. He gives media interviews as necessary.

Knowledge, abilities, and skills needed by NBA Commissioner

Fight under the backboard during a basketball match.jpg

Much is required of an NBA Commissioner. He or she has to possess considerable knowledge, skills, and abilities for the league’s success.

To perform the functions of the NBA Commissioner, he has to be fully equipped with the needed education and skills.

1. Education

An NBA Commissioner must have at least Bachelor’s degree in Sports Management, Law, Business Administration, or a related field. Having an MBA is a plus factor

2. Negotiation skills

Applicants for NBA Commissioner must possess strong negotiation skills to impact the quality of the players and games. Also, the negation skills will help promote the games with sponsors and other dealers.

3. Analytic skills

An NBA Commissioner must excel in logical thinking and analytical skills. He must be great at analyzing the league’s guidelines’ impact and the sanctions’ interpretation on players.

4. Knowledge

A background in law is an essential qualification for being an NBA Commissioner. He has to have superb business skills and an in-depth understanding of the law, contracts, collective bargaining, broadcast rights, and negotiation of agreements.