NBA Commissioner Adam Silver appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman on Monday and was asked about some of the issues the league has faced since he took over the position more than a year ago.
Letterman asked Silver about how he handled the case involving now-former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, who was banned for life, fined $2.5 million and forced to sell the franchise after he was heard on an audio recording making a number of racist comments.
“Did you welcome that challenge or were you thinking, 'I wish they were just deflating the ball?'” Letterman said in reference to “Deflategate” involving the New England Patriots.
Silver said he didn’t welcome the challenge and didn’t understand the magnitude of the situation until he got to Memphis the weekend the videotape surfaced and was met by media who regularly don’t cover the NBA.
Former Microsoft executive Steve Ballmer bought the Clippers for $2 billion.
Letterman said he joked about the sale price, saying “There. That oughta teach ya. You take your $2 billion and get out of here!”
Silver was also asked about the players expressing their rights to free speech, after players on several teams wore “I Can’t Breathe” shirts during pre-game warmups in reference to the death of Eric Garner. Garner was killed on July 17 after New York City police wrestled him to the ground and choked him to death.
A grand jury declined to indict the officers involved in Garner’s death.
Silver said that he preferred that the players wear the league-issued warmups but understood that this was a special situation after discussing it with the players association.
Letterman asked Silver if the union would like more leeway on issues involving players expressing themselves in issues that matter to them.
“I don’t think they are looking for carte blanche. Even the players, putting aside their union, understand that there are limits. And that if every player in each game went out and was promoting a particular cause, it probably wouldn’t be sensible,” Silver said. “I think the fact that they so rarely do it, and it was an issue of such incredible impact and emotion to the players, made it all that more meaningful that they did it in that case.”
Letterman also had laughs with Silver, suggesting the NBA raise the basket after every quarter and saying that New York should be the hub of basketball in the world.
- Scooby Axson